Lately, our conversations have been filled with “whys,” not statements of facts or certainties.
One reason: (Occasionally) unharnessed curiosity, which leads us to tons of questions, zip answers. Another, we think, is due to a recent yearning for utility, for function, for concrete actions and behaviors. Asking why gets us, eventually, to outcomes, to the goals our clients and our companies want to achieve.
Which, in themselves, are usually aspirational, rather than realizational. Yet the demands placed on each of us in our worlds, from branding and change to design and communications, are almost always for useful objectives. Like these:
“Get more of our targets to ‘like’ us.”
“Create apps to drive purchases.”
“Personalize the brand-consumer conversation.”
“We must be able to measure an increase in engagement – and retention.”
It’s the behaviors that matter today – not only the ultimate buy, but also the universe of buy-ins.
But will out doings activate useful results? A few decades ago, former White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater claimed, “The press briefing today I believe has lost much of its usefulness.” [Sad: Still true in 2013.] How many employees understand what HR decisions, from benefits to performance, they need to make – and do so correctly, in their own interests? Do our campaigns, internal and external, help our constituencies save time, deepen experiences, broaden connections, and/or provide more control? Will we, in short, be measured against corporate dimensions of usefulness?
Dilbert creator Scott Adams summarizes our dilemma well: “Be careful that what you write does not offend anybody or cause problems within the company. The safest approach is to remove all useful information.”