It’s much easier to go with the flow than create a splash of your own.
So many people will go through life accepting what they are given on face value, taking many things for granted and opting for the path of least resistance.
But what if you’re looking to get out of the slow lane and dive-bomb your way through life?
To design more effective products, make solutions more desirable, deliver more relatable propositions and make people care more about what you’ve got to offer, there’s one very important question to ask yourself…
Instead of just stating what something is, asking ‘so what?’ provides brutal enlightenment by forcing you to articulate why it exists and what it can achieve.
It takes you beyond mere features and attributes to find a deeper meaning that matters more to people.
It instantly gives you a fuller perspective, above and beyond than just what matters from your perspective. Once released from your existing associations and ways of seeing things, you are free to discover what is really going to make people tick.
“I’m a highly skilled designer.”
“Good on you, so what? What possibilities can your skills open up for others?”
“Our product is top-rated in its market?”
“Congratulations, so what? Is this because you offer the best platform for listening to and answering your customers’ deepest needs?”
You can keep on going, repeatedly asking ‘so what?’ and drilling down until you strike the most powerful nugget…
“I’m a creative hair stylist.”
“Fabulous darling, so what?”
“I can give people a style that best suits their hair type.”
“How precious, so what?”
“I’m able to give people greater confidence in their appearance and feel great about themselves.”
“Good stuff, so what?”
“It enables people to unleash their beauty on the outside and the inside.”
“Woah ok, getting a bit deep now!”
Asking ‘so what?’ is the difference between making a statement and inciting a response.
Tiny question. Huge shift of outlook.
Exploring the ‘so what?’ of a situation also makes any challenge far more subjective. All of a sudden, you can work with people to find the best answers rather than dancing around opinions and preconceptions.
Similarly, you might also ask, ‘as opposed to what?’. This narrows you into understanding whether you’ve created any actual new value.
Take the slogan, ‘Helpful banking’, by Natwest. As opposed to unhelpful banking?!
People tend to focus on what sounds good to them or might please their jargon-spouting bosses. This is why so many propositions and messaging are flawed. It’s just glad-handing without a real desire to understand what’s going to solve the customer’s problem.
And don’t get me started on corporate values. A series of 5 or 6 keywords including the likes of ‘professionalism’, ‘trust’, ‘quality’, ‘integrity’ and yada yada. Ask ‘as opposed to what?’ on these values and the company really isn’t doing themselves any favours.
If you want to run a truly value led company, the values have got to be actionable, behaviour based and relatable. Each should be a guiding principle that actually helps steer the right decisions. Otherwise they are just meaningless words that would be met with a blank expression if you asked the average employee to recite
Make ‘so what?’ and ‘as opposed to what?’ part of your thought process in absolutely everything! They can be applied to any aspect of work and life but can especially be the saviour of all your marketing, communications, design and business development decisions.
Soon it will start to become more automatic. Once you have the ‘so what?’ habit, you’ll be mentally outmanoeuvring the vast majority of your competition.
You’ll find it’s easier to inspire. You’ll have more of a magnetic personality. Simply because you’re always tapping into what matters for others. You’ll remove the risk of becoming too self-centred and become far more human-centred. People will forgive your 5-year old-like stubbornness on your quest to get to the real reason why.
Time for you to take action…
Pick a project you’re working on:
Identify what are the key features or USPs (Unique Selling Points).
Ask ‘so what?’. Again and again if necessary. each time you’ll find a new or deeper meaning.
Now try it on yourself:
List your skills and what you’re good at one by one. Try and get 4 or 5.
For each item, ask so what and see if you can find a few reasons why this matters to others.
Enjoy the process of discovering not what you can do but why someone else is going to value you!
And if you think your company might have fallen into the useless values trap, talk to me for heaven’s sake and I’ll help you achieve it properly.