The WHAT Test.
Over the years, I have found numerous uses for this simple strategy of thought. The WHAT Test is an acronym of steps to force you to think through how committed everyone involved actually is to a project, relationship or goal. It doesn’t ensure success, but it can help you avoid the disappointment of not having thoroughly thought about the agreed upon direction and level of commitment before you begin.
This is a framework I personally use, often verbally and sometimes just in my own mind of discovery working with a team. Through experience I have learned the hard way what happens if I don’t filter something through The WHAT Test.
Here’s The WHAT Test:
Where do you/we want to go?
It sounds simple, but it’s really not. Many times when one person is ready to celebrate success another thinks you’re just getting started.
Talk through the end goal. What do you/we want to accomplish? Let’s collectively define a win. Make sure it is very clear up front where you/we want to go and how you/we will know when we’ve “arrived” at our intended destination.
Sadly I have many times come to what I thought was completion on something I was asked to do, but I didn’t live up to the expectations of others on the team or in the relationship.
How will you get there?
What’s the plan? What are the action steps to get us to our goal? If we are going to be successful, what will it take to get us there?
Who is going to do what? Who’s responsible? Who’s in charge of what? Who is going to hold us accountable?
This is where you ensure there is adequate strategy in place to accomplish the goal.
Are all parties in complete agreement with the previous two questions?
This is critical. Unfortunately, I think we often neglect this important step. Don’t move forward without knowing everyone is on board.
What happens many times is we agree to an overall vision on the front end, but then as the process continues and everyone has their assignment there are reservations by someone and we didn’t take the time to understand them.
Once the actual strategy is in place it’s good to renew agreement before proceeding. Make sure everyone is fully on board before you press the “Go” button.
Will you everyone see it through?
This may be the most important one. I often ask: Are you willing to pay the price to see it through?
This is almost a covenant agreement type step – and may, at times, even involve an actual covenant or contract. Most great ideas fail – not because they weren’t great ideas, but because no one had the commitment to see them through. This frequently happens to teams. It can be especially true when relationships are involved.
Decide on the front end all parties have a “whatever it takes” attitude. This will save you many headaches and heartaches down the road.
Obviously, each of these have multiple layers to them, but this exercise always seems to shake out some of the initial reservations, which may not have been spoken. It helps to expose and hopefully avoid on the front end some of the personal obstacles there may be.
Let me give you a few examples of when I’ve used this:
- Working with a couple trying to rebuild their relationship – could be after an affair or serious breach in trust has occurred.
- Prior to attempting a difficult project or assignment as a team.
- Before a business partnership is formed.
At the beginning of an important venture – Take the WHAT Test
WHAT you are trying to accomplish will seem more attainable when you can easily pass the The WHAT Test.
There are dozens of applications for this simple formula, but the point is strategically thinking through these steps will help protect, build or rebuild relationships – plus help all parties avoid disappointment.
As I said in the opening of this post, sometimes I do this openly with all parties involved and sometimes I simply force the questions in an informal way, but I have actually called off a project because The WHAT Test revealed I didn’t have the full support of the team. And, when counseling a couple in their marriage, to use that example, if one spouse is not willing to move forward, couple counseling is not going to be very effective. It helps to know where people are in their commitment level.