The best leaders are always building know how. They seek to learn from every situation so they can improve and drive more consistent results. But they may not ask all the right questions to maximize their learning from each situation.
Former PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Andy Pearson taught a powerful follow through technique using these three simple questions:
What? | So What? | Now What?
He brought this technique to Yum! Brands and they used it to evaluate every promotion and new product launch to ensure they captured all of the learnings from each event. Here’s how it works.
The purpose of answering this question is to simply capture what happened. If you launched a new product, it would include a summary of all the facts, figures and results. You also want to include a description of the product, how it was promoted, the key functional learnings from operations, training, and marketing and how it performed from a consumer and financial perspective.
Too often organizations and teams simply report the “what,” then move on to the next activity without really stopping to assess the key learnings and implications of their actions. In 2004, KFC launched an unsuccessful product called Oven Roasted Strips. The project team brought in the typical post promotion analysis that answered all of the “what” questions. But the brand president, Gregg Dedrick, wanted more answers. He wanted to know the “So what?”
Asking “so what” adds additional insight to the evaluation. It is meant to get to the heart of the issue and clarify why the facts, figures and results matter to you or the organization. It is a way of asking what the consequences or implications of the actions that you took are, not simply whether it was successful or not.
In the Oven Roasted Strips analysis, it was clear that consumers wanted the brand to offer non-fried options, but there were many steps missed in the development process that led to an inferior and poorly executed product. Such performance was costly and unstainable. This discovery naturally led to the next question. “Now what?”
Asking “now what” is a call to action. What are you going to do differently as a result of your experience? How are you going to apply what you learned?
Asking “now what” in the Oven Roasted Strips case led to a more robust development and testing process that ensured every new product was optimized before going to market. Adding this process dramatically increased the success rate of future promotions and product launches.
If you want to build your know how and get the most learning out of every activity that you undertake, then challenge yourself and your team with these three powerful questions. What? So What? Now What?
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