January 18, 2018 Shelley Iocona

Your Big Why

The beginning of the new year is an exciting time for many of us. After some holiday reflection and hopefully much celebration, we move into another chapter that often feels like a fresh start. About four to six weeks in, however, we start to feel less enthusiastic. We see this in everything around us from missed gym appointments to delayed product releases. When things get tough, we start to lose our footing. This is completely natural.

As Founders, we may feel like this is akin to our day-to-day life building new products. After all, losing our footing is part of building a company as there are many twists and turns to make us feel off track along the way. The key is to hold the vision and mission of why you started, and to allow your big why to serve as a beacon in the night. We’d like to share some common ways to stay the course with some proven tactics that work!

Stay Focused

As a Founder, one of your biggest challenges is wrestling with the distractions put in your path. ‘Shiny object’ syndrome has hit all of us at one time or another. All of those great ideas from your team, the demands from your customers, and advice from your board can cause your attention to become diverted in a million places. Staying focused is critical in these moments. One of the best ways to help realign your energy and communicate your objectives to the world is through the use of storyboards.

A storyboard does many things in terms of user experience and product design, and illustrates the customer journey in a visual way. Storyboards are also incredibly valuable in staying focused.

When you see the vision of what you’re creating, your story comes to life.

Let your storyboard serve as a focal point. That focal point should tie back to the problem you solve, the job your product does for your customers, and ultimately your big why.

Embrace The Pivots

Pivots are a natural and necessary part of product development. The challenge is learning when to persevere and when to pivot. It takes some sophisticated tools and conversations to help decide the latter of course!

We recommend a strategy team that can help you develop the assessment model and associated metrics to track as one step to ensure a process is in place for the inevitable. There are so many ways to pivot, based on numerous criteria. We recommend taking a look at Eric Ries’ pivot considerations espoused in the lean startup movement.

Allowing yourself to embrace your pivots will make you – and your company – stronger. Your big why should serve to give you the courage, tenacity and inputs to what’s on the table.

Your big why is a filter from which decisions should be made.

Let your big why – along with some strategic guidance and thoughtful decision-making – support you making good decisions with grace when pivoting.

Results Matter

At the end of the day, we owe it to our customers, our team, our board, and ourselves to deliver on our promises. But how do you know where you are if you don’t track where you’ve been? We recommend creating the tools and techniques needed to assess progress before you begin, and developing the process for how and when to make changes to impact your results.

A great tool for assessing progress is none other than the roadmap – a company strategy roadmap and a product development roadmap – go hand-in-hand for Founder success. The importance of having these roadmaps cannot be understated; they help determine and prioritize your investments based on drivers you determine and define metrics you can manage.

A roadmap should communicate intended results, be flexible enough to help inform your pivots, and tie back to your big why.

If you can learn to enjoy the process of staying focused, embracing pivots, and leveraging key product management tools and techniques, your results will be revealed in terms of customer satisfaction.


If you read this far and are still asking yourself what your big why is, we recommend getting support to help figure this out. This is the single best thing you can do this year, and there’s no better time than right now.

We recommend Simon Sinek’s WHY Discovery Course if you need a little push in this area. And if you need to further develop your company insight and leverage product management best practices, schedule a free Discovery Call. We’d love to help.