It doesn’t matter if it’s an employee or a vendor, everyone should have a solid reason for the things they do. Otherwise, quite frankly, what they’re doing is just a hobby. Why should be asked all the time. And clear and quick answers should always be given.
I’ve seen it happen a lot specifically amongst creatives. It seems that their minds tend to race faster than they can control the purpose of what they’re doing. It’s actually a great part of the creative process. You just need to make sure you take it to the next level before stopping. Internally we’re asking why all the time. Until we have an acceptable answer, we’re not done.To me this is a true to test to see if someone is competent in what they do. Sure, you can wow me with great design, but telling me why it was done that way is what’s truly impressive. Launch a new website that has all the bells and whistles, but be clear on why I should use your product. Tell me I need a new message, but explain to me why the old one isn’t working. You tell me over and over that you’re the best, but I need to see why I should believe that.
Kids are outstanding at this. At around age two or three when they start forming a vocabulary they get into that annoying and repetitive why reply zone. Go wash your hands. Why? It’s time for bed. Why? Look both ways before you cross the street. Why? It drives a parent crazy, but why shouldn’t they ask why? We’ve all been guilty of saying “because I told you so” and in some situations that’s fine. But shouldn’t children understand the deeper reasoning of why they shouldn’t take candy from strangers?
Too often businesses make changes and make decisions based on whims. It’s time for a new advertising strategy because I’m tired of the old one. I want to restructure the sales department because I want to show I know what I’m doing. These aren’t reasons, their whims. How many impulsive decisions can you think of that you’re company has made?
Every time we present concepts to a client there’s a strong reason and meaning behind the strategy and the creative. There has to be because we fully expect to be challenged. (Full disclosure, our reasons aren’t always accepted, nor are they always correct…that’s part of the creative process) It’s not about a client not respecting our decisions, it’s about them wanting to understand the process. It may be a wild idea created to push them out of their comfort zone or it may be as we’ve seen in the shocked look on a client’s face, our recommendation that they don’t change what they’re doing. They wonder, isn’t that counterintuitive to you getting more business? Sure, we could try and up-sell services, but I’ve never seen that effectively work on an intelligent consumer — it’s safe to say that I consider all my clients intelligent consumers.
I absolutely love when a client asks why. It’s the opportunity to take them into the process and further explain a concept. Of course, there are wrong ways to ask why and we’ve seen clients do this as well. Don’t ask why before you’ve taken the time to understand the scope and environment in which the other person is working. Don’t ask why before you’ve tried to get into the other person’s mindset. Don’t ask why and then not listen, consider or respect the answer.
And if you’re the one being asked why you better always have an answer. It’s unacceptable to tell them you have to think about it. That should have already been done. The bottom line is:
- always ask why,
- and always have an outstanding answer to the question: Why?
So, what are you doing now? Why?