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 Answering the Magic Question


What are we working on and why?

Going into 2023, when someone asks what you are working on and why can you answer as shown in this superb graphic created by Henrik Kniberg?

Here is the breakdown of why this magic question should be answered in the following way by any Leader or Team:

We are working on X

X should be the high-value problem you are solving. Stating the problem reveals you understand the customer's problem. While facing uncertainty with little or no evidence of a solution, stating the high-value problem versus a solution enables you the flexibility to experiment and gather the evidence to find the fastest path toward delivering customer and business value.

Because we think it's going to impact Y

Y is the customer outcome of your team(s) solving this high-value problem. The result(s) occurs from all the activities and outputs (features, apps, services, ideas, etc.) that solve this problem. It should describe the impact you expect to have on the customer's life whose problem you are solving. There should be a known behavior change that's measurable. It's critical to understand the customer outcome you are trying to achieve.

Which matters to the company because Z

Focusing on the customer's problem is critical. But if you don't have a clear answer and understanding of why it matters to the company and how it contributes to the larger strategy with an equally important business outcome, then what's the point? If it doesn't bring value to the business and move business metrics, is it one the business should tackle? You must understand the impact of your work and how it will drive value for the business.

We're done when the metrics have moved

These metrics align you on how to measure success. With no metrics, how do you know if you succeeded? These metrics tie to the business and customer outcomes you are trying to achieve. Establishing metrics helps you track progress toward success. If those metrics are not moving, follow the evidence, review the customer, problem, and solution, and continue to experiment and iterate to find the fastest path to a value that moves metrics in the right direction.

The answer brings clarity, alignment, and a way to track progress toward success for Leaders and the Team. Going into 2023, what could be more important?

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