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How to reconnect with your why in business

Filed Under: Podcast | Strategy
Date Published: February 25, 2020
By: Claire

Sometimes we start a project very passionate but soon we find it hard to continue without knowing even the reason.

This is no different when it comes to innovation, what can you do when the ideas don’t come freely and your product feels stuck in a rut?

On today’s episode, Claire will help you how to get unstuck in these situations by reconnecting to your “why”.

Listen to find out:

  • Where are the most common blockers when it comes to innovation?
  • How reconnecting with your why will help you get unstuck.
  • The advantages of doing a gap analysis for your business.
  • The 5 “Whys” to reconnect to your “Why”

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Transcript of this episode:

January is an exciting month for business and innovation. As the New Year dawns, you are excited to dive into work and deliver new things for your business. But as February comes around, you can start to feel in a bit of a low. Maybe some of the actions that you took back at the beginning of the year aren’t working as well as you hoped. And what do you do when the innovation ideas don’t come freely and your product starts to feel stuck in a rut?

You need to get back to your why.

Today we are talking about one of my favourite topics when it comes to product innovation. Understanding your why.

In today’s episode, I will be talking about how you can reconnect with your “why” and get your product unstuck to kick start your growth in a customer focused way. 

My name is Claire and I’m the host of this the innovation and business podcast. Over the last nine years I’ve worked with innovation teams across industries including research manufacturing, retail and technology. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly when it comes to innovating for customers. Now I alongside my guests and sharing these learnings with you, to help you avoid the mistakes we’ve made and capitalise on our learnings to grow your business with innovation. 

This is one of my favourite topics, understanding your why and connecting to your customers. So I’m excited to get started. And I hope you are too. Without any further a do, let’s dive on in. 

There are a lot of different struggles you can have when it comes to innovation. And many reasons why these happen. If you’re feeling stuck, kind of like writer’s block, it’s so frustrating not knowing the way forward and remembering what it was like when you were in the zone and everything flows freely, worrying about whether you’re ever going to get back there again. You can start to feel overwhelmed or out of sync with your business and you don’t know which product innovation are going to drive the growth that you need to support your clients and your customers, your team and your family. 

These mental blocks can feel completely overwhelming, and you don’t know where to start. When it comes to innovation, you can feel like there is a lot of pressure to do something groundbreaking something that’s never been seen before. But, this is not the case. 

When you are stuck and you’re not understanding how you can grow your product and how to innovate. I want to encourage you to reconnect with your why.  When you know your why, and you know what it is that you do best and how you can serve your customers often the answer of how to innovate and the thing that’s been keeping you blocked, becomes suddenly clear and you are able to take that next step and grow your business. 

When you understand your why you can take purposeful action, you can keep focused on your customer, and you can know that by acting in their best interests, you’ll be able to grow your business. When it comes to reconnecting with your why I love the story brand framework, and understanding why your customers need you and how you can guide them and help them with your products to deliver against that mission. So, for those of you who haven’t read the book, it’s a seven step framework, which you are the guide for your customer.

So in this seven step framework there is a character, in this case is the customer and the customer is the hero of your story. They have a problem. So if your customer has a problem, they need a solution. That’s where your company comes in. Then you meet a guide. This is you and your company and understanding how you’re going to help them. And this guide has a plan and you show your customers the plan so that they can deliver their goals. This plan calls them to action so that they have to take action that will help them avoid failure. You always want to avoid that tragic ending. And then finally, if your customer follows your plan, then they are led to success. 

In this framework, you can reconnect with your customer that is coming to you with a need, understand your why, and create innovation within your products that helps them deliver on the plan that avoids tragedy and leads in success. 

So this framework is great for any brand, looking to reconnect with their why and help others to innovate in their product and their innovation. Where can you bring benefit? How can you create the best possible plan for your customer, and how can you improve it? 

I went through this process when I was setting up my consulting packages, of understanding exactly where our can help my customers and help people to deliver their own goals when it comes to product innovation. 

I will share a couple of the things with you now. So you can kind of get an idea of what we’re trying to do with your business and your innovation. 

So, I know that my character is a company, like you are an individual, a director, who has a digital product and wants to build a business that excites him and his team, and helps grow the business revenue. You have a problem, and if we look a little deeper into the problem, the problem has a villain. 

The villain in this case is your product that’s not growing. 

And then you have kind of internal, external and philosophical reasons why this problem is causing you pain. 

For example, as an external you need to innovate, to stimulate growth to increase sales and grow your business. 

Your internal problem is that you’re frustrated that you can’t work it out. And you’re confused about the process.

And the philosophical problem is you feel like you shouldn’t need to change everything, all the time to make this solution work. 

In this scenario, when you meet the guide, your guide is me, Claire, and my innovation consulting business. And I can help you with problem solving and product development that will help you innovate on behalf of your customers to build out a successful product.

When I share my plan with you that helps you to connect with your customer, map out processes, understand your end goal through data analysis, brainstorm solutions, prioritise your options, and ultimately deliver and at minimum lovable product that’s driving innovation. You get excited because you can see that this is a plan that will call you to action, and then deliver success with a product strategy that will help you grow your business. 

I’m using this example, for my consulting business to help show you how you can use this framework to reconnect with your why, construct your products, or your packages to help your customer and ultimately deliver product innovation.

So once you’ve kind of understood your why, another thing that can be helpful to you for connecting with your customers and understanding where they are, is to complete a gap analysis. There is a difference between copying and being inspired by your competitors. And of course, you want to be inspired by and not just straight copy them. One reason why, aside from the obvious legal challenges that you’ll come across, if you just go about copying all of your competitors, is that your competitors are probably not doing everything perfectly. 

Also, you’re probably targeting slightly different customers, even if you’re playing within the same space. And you want to understand where you are versus your competitors, and where you need to be to meet your customers needs that you have defined by connecting to your why. 

What are your customers looking for? What are your competitors doing well? What are your competitors not doing well? When looking at their products versus your own, how can you apply these learnings into your business that will help you improve your own products and innovate on behalf of your customers.

By going through the competitive gap analysis process. you can really understand how to innovate and help you get unstuck by taking a little bit of inspiration from your competitors and your customers. 

The final thing that I want to talk about is the “5 Whys” process. 

This is something I teach a lot in my innovation workshops and with my one on one clients, and it’s something that I’ve always found incredibly useful when I’ve needed to reconnect with my why, deep dive root causes of issues with products and help me drive innovation. 

And to help illustrate this point, I’m going to share with you a story from IBM that got a lot of media attention when they try to first launch a artificial intelligence powered medical diagnosis system. 

So artificial intelligence has gained a lot of press in the media for its ability to make decisions at scale, grow businesses and help really to automate systems and processes using big data systems and algorithms. And IBM were looking at how they could use AI to help Doctors diagnose patients more easy. This sounds like a great idea,  and anything that can help doctors and help them get back time that they want to be spending with their patients and offering the best possible care -particularly when they’re under such strange resources, in many cases- is a great and wonderful goal. 

However, one thing that IBM forgot to do was to work closely with their customers and understand the root cause of the problems that their customers and this case doctors were facing, so that they could build a product to serve them best. 

Long story short, when they launched their product to customers -the doctors- there was a lot of pushback from doctors on using this product as they identified several problems whether that could have actually caused patients harm, and IBM had to withdraw the system and start again, which cost them a lot of money. Artificial intelligence is in this level is not easy to build up and is very expensive. 

So, the moral of the story here is that when you’re looking at innovating, you really need to engage with your customers and build something on behalf of them and working with them. So that you can make sure that it’s fit for purpose and that it meets their needs as opposed to just innovating with your own ego, and your product innovation that you think is going to be helpful but actually misses the mark. It’s one of the things that I really want to encourage businesses to do with that product innovation romance, is innovate without ego and always work with your customers to drive growth.

If I was doing this project, I would have started working much more closely with doctors and I would have gone through the “5 Whys” process. And what this process is, is essentially challenging yourself to ask yourself, why five times when you want identify a problem, or when you identify something that you’re looking to do.

Now, this originally is developed by Toyota, as you know, I’m a big fan of their work within lean and how they develop processes. But I like to apply it to understanding your customer and understanding the root cause of your customers needs. 

For example, if you want to develop artificial intelligence to help doctors, ask yourself why you’re doing this, and one thing might be to reduce misdiagnosis. And then why is that misdiagnosis? Why are they going to do that? Because doctors might not have enough time or enough experience to identify things. Why might that happen? Well, some of these diseases are tricky and challenging, and you need to be very careful and to keep asking yourself why until you get to the root cause of why your system or your innovation will really help your customer to get more from your projects and to have a much more easy experience with what you have built.

So in this process of connecting to your why you can ensure that you are building products and innovating on behalf of customers in a way that’s going to support them. And it’s going to grow your business, scalably and sustainably in the future. 

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode back on connecting with your why. If you’re struggling to innovate or struggling to understand how to best drive growth in your business, reconnecting with your why, looking at building out a brand scripts that helps you connect with your why using the seven step story brand framework to understand why you exist and what your mission is for your customers is a great first step. Looking at gap analysis through the lens of your Why, and understanding what your competitors do well and badly and any potential opportunities for you to deliver better for customers. And then finally, when you’ve identified what you want to do and where you want to grow deep diving that issue with the “5 Whys” process to make sure that you’re tackling the root cause of the problem, and not the superficial way that you might otherwise get to.

In these three steps, you can really reconnect with your why and kick start product innovation for your business that’s going to grow your business.

I hope you found this useful, and I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you on this, one of my favourite topics, understanding your why. I hope you tune in next Tuesday. Where we will be continuing on the topic of innovation and potential loss or getting stuck when it comes to product innovation, and I’ll be talking to my guest on this topic and how they overcame some of these challenges within their business to innovate and grow. 

Make sure you don’t miss this episode by subscribing to the podcast with your podcast provider so you don’t miss it. 

And if you have time, please leave a review as it helps others find the podcast and it helps me to get great guests for you. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and I can’t wait to chat to you more next week. Have a great day now. Bye!