When You're Trying To Solve A Problem, Should You Start With Why Or What?

Friday, July 15, 2011 09:15
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When You're Trying To Solve A Problem, Should You Start With Why Or What?

Tags: practice management | questions | research

I recently have started hanging out with Susan Bradley and the gang at Sudden Money®We’ve been having an interesting and in my opinion useful conversation about the order of dealing with client issues.

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The question is: When we’re working with a client on a problem, should we start with "why" or should we start with "what?"
Another way of looking at this is that starting with intention would be starting with why. Starting with purpose would be starting with what.

In most circumstances, starting with why makes the most sense. 
I’m a big believer in having a corporate and personal mission statement. This mission statement is something that should be incorporated in everything you do, have no more than ten words and be able to be answered with a yes or a no.
If we’re starting with a mission statement, then starting with why makes a lot of sense. If we’re starting with solving a problem, then starting with what and checking in to see if the particular what fits in with our mission might be the logical starting place.
Many times we want to do “stuff” in our business. We believe that if we’re not doing anything, then we’re not providing value to our customers. I’m not sure this is true. Often doing nothing is the best thing. This is why so many advisors have turned to charging asset management fees instead of commissions for trades. Doing nothing is often the best thing and we’re getting paid for giving the best advice, not making the most dust.
I think this ties into starting with why instead of what. When we start with what, we’re setting ourselves up for doing something. When we start with why, we’re taking a break to make sure that before starting action we’re doing the right thing. 
I know that in my own personal life, when I start with why I often get a much better result than when I start with what.
Starting with why forces us to become thoughtful about our next step. When we start with what we’re not asking that question. Instead we’re saying here’s a problem and let’s start.
I think this issue is one that I’ll be able to spend a great deal of time thinking about. I’m anxious to hear your ideas. Please share a comment below about whether you think starting with why, what or something else is the most appropriate way to deal with a problem.

 

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