How often do you ask “What is the purpose of this initiative?”

Seth Godin has a great post called “what is the point?” today. Read it, it will likely be better than this.

I work in a mid-sized company, co-own a small retail business, sometimes consult on PR and write regularly for free and for money. Rarely though, in these relatively disparate pursuits, do I hear people asking “what is the purpose of this initiative?”

We all should.  Often.

So much of the time, we do things that do not serve business goals because we forget to ask this question.

Let’s use an obvious example to make a point: Someone might say “we should increase our Twitter followers.” This seems wise, especially since social media is the channel du jour. The question is why increase a firm’s Twitter following? What does this do for the bottom line? Anything? If not, then fuck it. The point of commerce is to make cash, not gain Twitter followers. Though the latter can sometimes help with the former.

Let’s go further. Someone sets up a meeting between two parties. If each side disagrees on the purpose of the meeting you have a shitshow on your hands. Sounds so simple, but how many meetings have you participated in where this has happened? My guess is the vast majority have been useless, directionless shitshows.

Want to make your career and business more fulfilling/profitable/better? Frequently ask what the purpose of any given action or initiative is.

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