Explaining The Big Why – Part 2


In my last post I wrote about “The Big Why” – the importance for leaders to communicate the rationale behind their decisions. After all, who wants to be told what to do? And emotional commitment only comes when people understand why.

But the question remains – what should be included in The Big Why? Here is a simple five-part guideline.

  • Step 1: Share the decision. Summarize concisely what was decided.  Lay out the facts and details about the decision.
  • Step 2: Explain the context and rationale behind the decision. This is the meat of The Big Why, and it communicates your core reasons.
  • Step 3: Link the decision to your organizational goals and values. This helps people to understand how the decision aligns with the bigger picture and where the business is going.
  • Step 4: Talk about the expected impact of the decision to the business, your customers, employees, and other stakeholders. This impact statement is an often forgotten step that drives the decision home.
  • Step 5: Summarize and lay out the next steps. This helps to add consistency in a period of uncertainty. Within those next steps should be opportunities for people to engage in discussion, debate, and dialogue.

One last comment for the results-oriented, fast-paced “Drivers” out there who might be saying “I don’t have time for this. People just need to get on board.” The Big Why takes more time upfront, but it is critical for gaining the emotional commitment from your people. Without that emotional commitment, decisions tend to get revisited over and over again. And, that takes even more time.

How do you explain The Big Why in Your organization? Comment below.