Sunday, October 23, 2011

The wrong thing

We are in a constant battle of priorities.  Some are internally driven, others are external.  Some are personal while others are professional.  To make matters worse, our priorities are in a constant flux because our situations are always changing.  It gets to a point where everything becomes a moving target and we feel that we're accomplishing nothing.

There is a simple cure to this dilemma - choose to do the right thing.  Sound too simple?  Let's put it into perspective:

Most organizations never ask the right question when prioritizing business initiatives and projects.  They do business cases, risk analyses, cost-benefit analyses, etc. in order to justify their decisions, but they rarely ask, "what will happen if we don't do this?"  This question is the key to doing the right thing.  In most cases, the answer is "nothing will happen."  By not asking this simple question, organizations, and people, fall into the trap of doing too much of the wrong thing - which leads to being overwhelmed with valueless activities and undue consumption of resources.

This logic can be applied to many contexts.  For example, I have a very simple strategy for branding that follows this logic.  When establishing a brand, the best way to get to the crux of the meaning of the brand, the "why" behind the brand, is to define the absence of the brand.  What would the world be like without Coca-Cola?  

This one question - "what will happen if we (or I) don't do this" - can be applied to every facet of life, personal and professional.  If your answer isn't significantly more compelling than "nothing", you probably shouldn't be doing it.