Communicate Why Before How

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Feb 26

Kevin Eikenberry offers up a short post with lots of impact. In What to Communicate, Kevin offers up this simple, but powerful, communications statement:

Communicate why before how, and don’t switch too soon.

He goes on to note:

In most organizations and teams the “why” is missing. When the why is strong enough, the how will be figured out. Besides, if you are trying to empower your organization, as a leader you probably need to spend less time on how anyway.

In my career travels, one of the most important items taught to me was that “why” a change was needed — preparing people for the change — was the most critical aspect of the change process itself.

The problem is that by the time the change is communicated to those in cubes, the management team has discussed all the reasons why a change is needed and (hopefully) fully explored different options for executing the change. They know all about the why.

Then forget to communicate the why to the people that need to make the change because they assume those people already know.

They don’t.

If you consider how long managers spend working through the why of change and how to execute it, wouldn’t it make sense that it would take as long — if not longer — for the people executing the change to understand the why?

  • Scot – Thanks for the mention! Your points are exacty right. Once the why is clear to us, we assume everyone else gets it.

    As you said,

    they don’t.

    Kevin 🙂

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