Transcript – 3.0 – So What [CF]


Welcome back to The SoWhat strategy. Today I'd like to talk to you about the So What the single idea that glues your whole story together. Now, if we begin with where this sits in the overall structure, we've got our 10 point test there on the screen. And today, we got to be focusing on making sure you can achieve Question four and question five, to make sure you get a four marks for each one. Now, question four, is there one? So what that's 25 words or less? And secondly, is it powerful? Does it include the kicker, and synthesize not just summarize the whole story?

So let's get into it and have a look at how we do that. So we've got five things we think about when asking ourselves whether our so what glues our whole communication together? Firstly, it needs to answer the audiences question. Secondly, it needs to unify the whole story. Thirdly, it's one idea framed as one succinct sentence, it synthesizes or summarizes the supporting ideas. And lastly, it's powerful and supportable. So that's a lot of work for one sentence to do. So the introduction leads to that single question that we answer with the so what and I've got an example here to illustrate. So in this case, the context is that last week, I went to a future of finance conference. And then you might ask yourself, Well, why are you telling me that? Well, the trigger, then says, I thought you might be interested in my key takeaways. Okay, well, what are your key takeaways becomes the natural question that falls out of that. And that leads to an answer, which might be something like, I see, I saw at least three opportunities to strengthen our operations that will enhance our ability to compete. That's one idea that then ties together everything that's to come while also answering that question.

So to that point about unifying the whole story. Let me take this example a bit further. So here with this example, on the left of the screen, you can see that I've got one idea with three supporting points underneath. Now, if you look at each of those ideas, sitting underneath the blue box, the first one's talking about becoming more agile, to stay ahead of competitors. The second one's talking about paying more attention to improving our customer experience, given a competitive accelerated shift to digital. And then the third one talks about the need to streamline back end processes. So we can respond quickly when working remotely. So the first one's about competitors. The second one's about the shift to digital. And then the third one's talking about remote working remotely. Now in the idea at the top there, the so what the draft, that's not quite right, it says I saw at least three opportunities to improve our customer experience. Now, that really doesn't overarch, all three of those points. It talks about the middle one, it doesn't talk very much about the first and the third. So it's not right, it doesn't overarch the whole story. So in the example on the right, you can see there, I've highlighted in yellow, that we're talking about strengthening our operations.

Now, if we think what category would tie those three points, supporting points together, operations is a really viable one. So it's a much better example of tweaking that sentence. So overarching the whole story. Now, we could take that a bit further, still have a look at what I've done here. So I don't just say, operations, I actually go further and say, Well, actually, I saw at least three opportunities to strengthen our operations that will enhance our ability to compete. Now, don't underestimate the value of explaining why it's important that we strengthen our operations. If we think back to many books on this topic, if we think of how we make impact, telling people what to do is one thing, but explaining why engages them far more. So we can still do that, within a really short number of words, that then ties the whole story together in a much more powerful way. So now let's have a look at the third point here, we need to have one idea framed as one succinct sentence, let me give you an idea of what I mean there.

So looking at the example on the left of the screen here, we've got a very long so what is more than 25 words, it's 43. So it's far too long. But let's have a look at what's going on. At the beginning of that sentence. at the conference. I not only heard some great presentations, but I talked to some terrific people who led me to think we can improve our agility, lift our customer experience, and also streamline our back end processes to make it easier to work remotely. And that's a bit of a ramble a duplicate the context and adds no value. Also at the very end there in your second part that I've now highlighted in orange, it lists it Rather than synthesizing them together and tying them into one single idea, so it's too long. And it is not one succinct sentence, one sentence but too long and not at all succinct. Alternatively, I might be able to say something like, I saw at least three opportunities to strengthen our operations that will enhance our ability to compete. Now, look, there, I've got the category or operations, I've got the reason why that matters. And still within 16 words, which is well beneath the 25, that we think is a healthy maximum. So my first thought here is that this idea we have needed to synthesize or summarize the supporting ideas, all of them, and ideally, synthesize not just summarize, let me first talk about summaries. Now, these are really useful, but they organize your ideas rather than offering insight, which I think is where you're going to want to go most of the time. So in this example, the top message there, the so what says, I have three takeaways? They might say, Well, what are they Well, once on agility, once on customer experience, and once on remote working? Now, there are a couple of things going on there. Firstly, we've got a bit of a summary at the top. And then those supporting points are really just saying, I've got one on the topic of agility, one on the topic of customer experience, one on the topic of remote working. Now they're not even a summary. They're just categories. So we don't want to do that either. That categories are really useful, but they're not a message.

Now if we were to take another step and offer synthesis, which offers more insight, we might come back to that example that I've been playing with. As we've gone through here, I saw at least three opportunities to strengthen our operations that will enhance our ability to compete. Now we need to repeat that strategy of offering synthesis and insight. And if we were to do that with this example, we'd say at the first point there, we need to become more agile to stay ahead of our competitors. So that's what we're saying about agility. In the second point, when we're talking about the accelerated shift to digital, we're saying we need to pay more attention to improving our customer experience, given our competitive accelerated shift to digital now, they were saying, what are we saying about that topic, not just giving you the topic. And we're doing the same thing there with the third point, we need to streamline back end processes so we can respond when working remotely? So we're not just saying remote working, we're saying, why are we communicating about remote working? What are we saying about remote working, and turning that into a powerful message, and that strategy appears at every level in the storyline.

Lastly, we need to make sure our points are powerful, and supportable. Now let's have a look at this example. I saw at least three opportunities to strengthen our operations that will put us ahead of all of our major competitors in Australia and overseas. Now, in the context of having been to a conference, I may know that it's true, I might, I might be very much aware of what's going on in my industry. But I think it's a pretty big call and hard to prove, I'd want to have a lot of evidence before I made a call of that magnitude on this topic. So if I stay instead, I saw at least three opportunities to strengthen our operations that will enhance our ability to compete. I think that's something that is eminently achievable. It's something that I can support, that the ideas I'm bringing back from the conference will enhance our ability to compete. Let's look at some examples. Here's some further examples. I've got some strategic examples first, and then I've got some more operational ones just to illustrate and help this come to life with you.

So firstly, Bitcoin needs to restructure the acquisition deal, so it's consistent with our long term strategy. Now, there's a lot of detail that's going to need to go on to that one. But that ties together the ideas there very nicely, very cleanly. Secondly, tech quotient acquired target coder position itself to capture X percent in market share over y timeframe, let's be really specific here. Thirdly, smart code can become more competitive if it strengthens its backend systems to enable faster, higher quality data analysis. Again, a really high level strategic sort of story that's very powerful and still within the 25 word limit. So let's have a look at some simpler, more operational day to day sorts of examples.

These are the sorts of things that you might deliver in a presentation, or perhaps in an email, it could be something a bit lower levels and that too, so firstly, smart coach should implement option B to present. So firstly, smart coach should implement option B to address problem a. Secondly, big unit is on track to deliver against its q1 business unit aspirations. Or Finally, we need to improve our induction program to provide a smoother onboarding experience for graduates. So in working with 1000s of people over a couple of decades, I have seen these sorts of stories appear in all sorts of communication situations and formats. And so wanted to provide some examples for you here, so that they become really tangible for you as you prepare your own communication. So in terms of next steps for you, please take the challenge that sits below this video. Begin when you're putting these ideas together in shorter communication, such as emails, please don't be afraid to have a go at the small stuff and continue on to the next section when you're ready. Thanks so much and I look forward to talking to you in the next module. Bye for now.