Why to Define the "Why" on Your Projects

As we mentioned the other day, the first step in the natural planning model is to “define purpose and principles.” Defining your purpose is basically asking the “why?” question. “Why are we doing this? What are we seeking to bring about through this?”

Why is it so important to ask the “why” question on your projects? Getting Things Done discusses six benefits:

  1. It defines success
  2. It creates decision-making criteria
  3. It aligns resources
  4. It motivates
  5. It clarifies focus
  6. It expands options

As Allen writes, “almost anything you’re currently doing can be enhanced and even galvanized by more scrutiny at the top level of focus.” That probably seems pretty evident to most of us.

The problem is that, although this is common sense, it is not commonly practiced:

I admit it: this is nothing but advanced common sense. To know and be clear about the purpose of any activity are prime directives for clarity, creative development, and cooperation. But it’s common sense that’s not commonly practiced, simply because it’s so easy for us to create things, get caught up in the form of what we’ve created, and let our connection with our real primary intentions slip.

The challenge, then, is to practice what we know. Don’t let solid common sense about managing your projects just sit on the shelf. Make it your common practice.