Want to be a Disrupter? Keep Asking Why

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As many parents are aware, the dreaded first words children learn are usually “no,” followed by “why.” These first few words are important milestones in development. By asking why (to literally everything), toddlers are beginning to better understand the way the world works. Fast-forward to adulthood, we shouldn’t stop asking why. Specifically, in today’s digital world, embracing the why is the well-kept secret to becoming a disruptor in the digital age.

Embracing the story of why

What and how have become commonplace and replaced the question why. What do we need to do to be ahead? How are we going to fund this? It’s astounding the number of leaders in organizations that are stuck asking these types of questions, without realizing the people who are leading the digital revolution are thinking about the whys. Why should we do this? Why is this change necessary? Why do customers want this?

Every successful disruption starts by asking why. Traditional IT is all about the what and how. There’s the product that is creating one solution assumed to clean up some sort of process. IT never asks the reason behind why they should change business. Digital is disrupting this idea by using technology to enable business, figuring out why technology should be used to change a process, a model or a business as a whole. Beginning by telling the story (the why), enables the existing process to be reinvented.

The evolution of ridesharing is an example of this disruption. Nobody questioned the processes of the taxi industry. The process that existed for years and years was maintained because you can’t change something you don’t ask why about, right? There was no effective way to manage unplanned travel. That is, until Uber came along and asked – why? Asking why questions created the connection between taxis and technology; thus, disrupting the model of an entire industry that millions rely on for transportation.

  • Why can’t companies manage unplanned travel?
  • Why can’t we utilize our mobile phones and create planned travel?
  • Why do consumers need this?

And look where this has taken us. Digital first is now mainstream travel. As a result, leaders are beginning to realize that they have to become a digital company first and put their primary business model second to beat the market. Look at how Uber’s digital technology enables us to instantly plan how to get from point A to point B. Taxi companies felt they were shielded by laws and process and never thought to reinvent themselves. Complacency is enemy of innovation and the digital playground is where the war is being fought.

The story tells why

The idea of digital transformation takes place from the outside in. The key is to avoid looking at just the technology and sequencing to first focus on building the all-encompassing story. Embrace the human-centric piece to ultimately drive change within the business and create real transformation.

Rather than asking how people are going to use this system, the question needs to shift to focus on the reasons “why” consumers are going to use it. Instead of dictating the system and its use, figure out the story behind the need for change to give the user a choice. That’s real transformation.

These human stories are driving change on the front-end and the back-end, allowing for complete collaboration. Understanding the story forces us to look beyond the user experience, and focus on the human platform. Connecting data that is relevant to the human, alters the experience in ways we cannot predefine today to allow users to customize their experience in a way that’s pertinent to them. Maintaining constant connectivity to the people who are going to leverage what you’re building and understand “why” they want to do the things they are doing is what ultimately transforms your business into digital experiences that allows them to embrace their digital child.

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