On Seth Godin's altMBA, from start to finish, on every project, one of the key questions that we all labored over (and still do) was "what's it for?". Three short words that it turns out are very difficult to answer well...
New business idea? What's it for?
Developing a new product? What's it for?
Improving your marketing plan? What's it for?
How many times have you sped off on a project without truly answering this simple question?
Answer well and it will take your plan further than possibly any other question you might ask yourself (and the team around you). After all, if you don't know then how will your customers? The bottom line is, if you don't nail this part down then the chances are that everything else that depends on the answer will become unstuck.
Now, let's re-frame the question a little. Rather than in the context of developing a new product or a new business idea, how about framing it as a change you're seeking to make for yourself. That new direction you're trying to take. What's it for? Maybe my multiple choice will help, pick a number (or as many as you like):
So, which did you pick? What's it for? I'd love to know.