The Power of the Why Slide

What do I mean by the Why Slide?  Curious?  Read on to find out how to move beyond the “IT Presentation Status Quo” and drive home alignment with a simple change to your IT slide decks.

During an Engagement Strategy Working Session last week with an up and coming IT Leader who is trying to make waves in his organisation, we discussed Customer Experience in IT and how IT often misses the opportunity (and their need) to drop value messages into all touchpoints with our Stakeholders. Mapping out the next few months, we saw clearly that there were a number of presentations being given by his team leads to key business and IT stakeholders about the large-scale changes. We took a look at the last 3 months worth of presentations to gauge how well his key messages and the value of what IT was doing was shining through… and what we found was what I like to call the “IT Presentation Status Quo” – slides full of data, tons of points on our logic, lots of proof of the work and some information about what work we would do next.

My friends, this has got to change!

The IT presentation status quo is all about our insecurity and our love of logic, architecture and design. So, we always jump into the WHAT. That’s what we lead with, what is the status, what are we doing, what did we do, what will we do. What does the architecture look like? We love to show our thinking, our reasoning, the strict principles of IT validity. The insecurity comes in because we feel we need to show this work (See how much work IT is doing??? We are killing ourselves for you.). Maybe this is part of the legacy hero culture? Our business stakeholders refer to this as “Death by IT Powerpoint” and it’s something I find at many …. well most ….. ok, all organisations.

We are missing a huge opportunity! Right up front, we need to explain the why. Why is this project, opportunity important? Who cares? Why should they care?? Where is the value? (And by Value, I don’t mean just ROI). What is the value of the projected outcome? What part of our mission does it get us closer to? What does this work, this project, this idea connect to in the value chain?

May I present to you, the WHY Slide.

The WHY SLIDE is the slide you lead within every deck you create. It cannot be buried at the back as some sort of business value aside.

The why slide serves two purposes:

  • Externally, it shows that we are aligned to the business as an IT function (Hey, look! We ‘get’ it!). It shows that the project or opportunity you are working on has the business and IT Value (Hey, look! You are not wasting your money!).  Since most people don’t remember much in the middle of presentations, it needs to be in the front to really plant the message in the stakeholder’s mind. The repetition may seem annoying at first, but these are the points which need repetition!
  • Internally, it builds skills in the IT department which are sorely lacking – sales skills, business acumen, value thinking, etc. The very act of putting this slide together (and not using the same messages over and over but asking your IT leaders, PM’s, Apps Managers, EA’s etc., to draft it for themselves), it builds their business acumen, value understanding and feeling of connection to something bigger, something important in the business in the mission of the company or organisation.

For CIO’s and IT Leaders: This is the slide you should ask every single IT presentation in your organisation to lead with (for both internal to IT stakeholders and external to Business stakeholders).