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Writer’s block. The blank page that scares most authors. But it shouldn’t scare you.

It means you’re in the best position to take a fresh look at your problems.

As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

More importantly, you wouldn’t expect a doctor to prescribe a treatment without a thorough diagnosis, and your brand or company or important life decision shouldn’t be any different. An old diagnosis may be quite misleading, and quite possibly, missing new issues.

So what’s the secret to filling that confronting blank page?

Questions are usually the best answer.

But to get the right answers, you need to ask the right questions.

You’ll often see questions like:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • What do we need to do to get there?
  • How do we do it?

All great questions, but sometimes phrasing them differently can also be helpful.

  • What is it that you’re trying to achieve?
  • What’s stopping you?
  • What could help you?
  • What’s the first step you could take to get the process started?

Another technique is one pioneered by Toyota to help solve car production problems – the Five Whys. By asking yourself ‘why’ five times, you can move from a problem to the root cause of that problem. For example, a product losing market share (could be a carpet stain remover or an emergency medicine) :

Why 1: Why are we losing market share?

Because a new competitor has entered the market

Why 2: Why are our customers choosing that product over ours?

Because our customers think it’s better

Why 3: Why do they think it’s better?

Because our competitor has developed a demonstration video that convinced people how simple the product is to use?

Why 4: Why is that so important?

Because for these products to work, the user has to act quickly and confidently – there’s not a lot of time to read instructions

Why 5: Why don’t people think our product is just as easy?

Because we’ve been focused on how effective our product was and neglected to show and tell customers how simple it is to use.

The problem is losing market share, but the root cause is that the company focused too much on effectiveness and not enough on simplicity of use.

So issue #1 for your blank page has now been identified.

You can now begin to answer your initial questions and start to formulate a plan:

Where are we now? We are losing market share
Where do we want to be? Regaining market leadership
What do we need to do? Demonstrate that our product is simple and effective
How do we do that? In store demonstrations, online videos

That’s a great way to start filling in that blank page. But in a future post, we’ll show you how to use another great tool – the issue tree.

Communovate always starts with a blank page. If you need help putting pen to paper on your project, email Doug Robb, or use the Contact Us form to find out more.