Don’t start with How

Don’t start with How.

Or What, for that matter.

It’s been kinda quiet on this blog the past few weeks, but I’ve been horrendously busy behind the scenes. Some of the ‘busy’ you’ve sort-of seen here, in previous posts about writing and publishing. Other bits you won’t have seen yet, such as the preso for the Africa4IT conference that, in the end, I couldn’t go to – I’ll post the preso on Slideshare soon anyway. A whole load more going on, too.

But most, far worse, I’ve fallen into a classic project-development trap: I started from How.

Fact is that my websites are a mess. My marketing is a mess. Even my email-management is a mess at the moment. And I need to do a heck of a lot to make my material more accessible, rather than buried deep in various blogs and books. So it’s been kinda obvious that I need to get myself together on some kind of web-strategy – or, more correctly, information-relationship strategy. And implement it properly, and urgently.

But what did I do? I started from How.

I’ve spent days – weeks – poring over app-frameworks and web-frameworks and old wiki-code and the Webpress codex, trying to work out the best way to do what I sort-of think I want to do. I’ve reinstalled my old development apps, and some new ones too; I’ve pulled up all manner of development-language reference-guides; I’ve set up  a web-server on each of my test-machines; all the usual stuff. I’ve spent hour after hour agonising over whether I should hold onto my old wiki-formatting, try to go the HTML-sort-of-WYSIWYG route (which I loathe), or go entirely over to Markdown which fits well with my publishing-workflow but still feels way too limited in its formatting. I planned out SQL-schemas that would allow me to reuse the same text on multiple views – mobile and desktop, and on to publishing-flow. I tested out options to go direct to apps-delivery. More and more and more detail.

And in the desperate rush to have something to show as soon as possible, the end-result, so far, is still nothing at all.


What I need to do instead is take my own advice:

  • slow down from the rush of doing
  • stop for a moment
  • refocus – where would all of this fit in the big-picture?
  • where’s the story that would hold it all together?
  • then start again from that Why.

Start again. Not with the What. Or the How. Always start from the Why.


Watch This Space, folks?

1 Comment on “Don’t start with How

  1. To be or not to be … that is the question that leads us to why … Start with Why is at the core of enterprise architecture and business architecture. We’ve been trained to do without asking why. This is the reason it is so difficult. We aren’t trained to start with why. it’s one of the main reasons I get so upset with IT taking over enterprise architecture. IT starts with what and how…forgetting the important why.

    Good luck my friend. Look at all the “do” you did and see if you can find a glimmer of “why” in there.

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