Strategy mapping software for your startup
Work on what’s most critical for your startup with I Am Why
Francesco | 13.11.17
I Am Why is a lightweight tool for managing your strategy, from goal setting to weekly tasks. Think of it as Google Calendar meets Trello.
The idea behind I Am Why is simple: a calendar view where you can write down your startup’s high-level objectives for the next few months, but also all the activities you need to perform to execute your strategy.
Strategy, tactics and weekly tasks, where they need to be: on the same screen, in front of you and your team.
I Am Why is intentionally simple and easy to use: you won’t find tons of optional features you’ll never use, but only what you need to stay focused and on track.
Strategy for Startups
The right recipe for a successful startup is a good mix of strategy and execution, says serial entrepreneur George Deeb.
Having a great idea and some skilled and nice teammates is not enough. You need a well-articulated strategic plan to make your idea real, and the determination and discipline to implement it.
Many startups, however, think that they could go to the market without a strategic plan. The motto If you build it, they will come worked well for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it can be disastrous for startups. A strategic plan is fundamental because it gives you direction. It allows you and your team to know what the priorities are and where to focus your efforts. There are a lot of things to do and many distractions in a startup, and it’s easy to sight of the big picture.
As a startup team ourselves, we’ve tried for a long time to find the right tool for developing and following a strategic plan. We wanted something that could let us set our high level goals and define the related actions. Something that would go from ‘validate problem/solution fit’ right down to 'user test 6 people'.
Over the last few months we’ve interviewed founders and co-founders of startups, and we realised that they share our same struggle with strategic planning. There is nothing out there that can help you understand both the strategic plan and the related activities. So we decided to build it ourselves. Welcome I Am Why!
I Am Why: the visual strategic planning tool for startups
I Am Why is a simple strategic planning tool based on 3 basic principles from research in cognitive psychology and organisational science:
- Goal-oriented Planning
- In your sight, in your mind
- Track, Iterate, Improve
Set your objectives using a combination of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and the Commander’s Intent: set the objectives, define the quantitative key results, and don’t forget to write why they’re important!
No more working at cross purposes with the rest of the team or wasting time on trivial tasks. With I Am Why priorities are always clear: you always know what’s important and also why it’s important.
In your sight, in your mind
Strategy is crucial for your business to succeed so don’t keep it under the carpet, hidden away in some obscure document. In I Am Why, your whole plan, from high-level goals to weekly tasks, is always right in front of you, and it’s also visible to the entire team. See the big picture and bring your team onboard!
Track, Iterate, Improve
Changing direction is part of the startup life. The important thing, is to change in the right moment: not too late, nor too soon (do you have data or it’s just your hunch?). With clear goals and deadlines, it’s always easy to check if you’re going in the right direction or it’s time to iterate on your strategy.
The weekly calendar
I Am Why breaks everything down into weeks. Weeks are the right time frame for startups and small businesses, because:
You can use it during your weekly meetings to review progress and decide what to do next. We suggest to do it every Monday morning. You are fresh and very often some of best ideas arise during the weekend, so it’s a great moment to plan for the week ahead;
A week is big enough to give people freedom and autonomy to decide how and when perform their duties. Micromanagement is inefficient, and by embracing the Army’s Commander’s Intent principle you can improve effectiveness. Tell your people what to do and why, but let them free to decide how to act;
Having a close deadline is a good way to get more focus out of your team. You need to be fast and agile, check your progress and iterate fast. You’re a quick and nimble startup, not a quarterly-goal mammoth!