Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The So What?

When you come across a symptom of a problem in the Army, such as a truck being out of commission, radar breaking, communication down, etc.; the question you need to answer is "So What?"

"The So What?" (TSW) can include a variety of branches off of it, depending on the situation. Common questions that can help explain TSW include:
  • How does it impact the mission? 
  • What additional risk is the unit assuming due to this circumstance?
  • What can you do to mitigate these risks?
  • What are the next steps we should take?
(These questions just serve as a guide, and will not be used in all situations. Generally, if you just keep asking "So what?" until you figure out what needs to be done, this will suffice.)

Once you figure out TSW, you can determine what needs to be done and how to best move on with the mission.

An example of how this might transfer into a common business scenario:

Symptom: Our inventory software needs to be updated in order to properly account for our stock.

The So What?":
  • How does it impact our business (mission)? This impacts our ability to do business, as we need to pay to upgrade the software in order to stay in business. Further, when we update our inventory software, we must also update our accounting software. This will cost X dollars and Y hours. It may also cause a delay in service while we are transitioning for the upgrade.
  • So what? So, we need to change the budget and reduce our spending in _____ area in order to make up for the X dollars spent. Additionally, we will need to allow for Y hours to be shifted from Project ______ in order to get this done before the end of the quarter when we expect the inventory update to need to be in place. We will also need to alert our customers ("Information Operations" in the Army) of a slight delay in service while we are in transition.