Monday, September 5, 2011

Your Right Questions

Is there water on Mars?

Do cows have eyebrows?

If bananas are a fruit why don't they have seeds?

What does God look like?

These are some of the excellent questions I get from my daughter! 

Questions and questioning provide the fire for life.  Our innate curiosity about how the world works and why it works the way it does can lead to great discoveries.

The problem is that not all questions are created equal, especially at work!

For example, as a manager, you should spend less time on "what colors and fonts should we use on our website" and more time on "what are the key performance metrics that will help us to track our failure and success?"

In other words, one of our key challenges as managers is asking the right questions about our organizations.

It's not easy.

Asking the right questions is HARD because:

1) We get DISTRACTED by quandaries that are easy to solve but unimportant.
2) Asking leads to answering which leads to accountability, which is scary.
3) Some of the hardest questions don't have right or wrong answers.  To answer "correctly" we simply have to take a leap of faith. (Also scary.)

I wish I could tell you Your Right Questions but I can't.

Your organization is peculiar.  There are some things only you know about your people, plans and processes.

That said, here are two places to start your Socratic Journey.  Check out The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Nonprofit Organization by management guru, Peter Drucker.  Also, peruse Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution by Robert Simons.  Both of these books will give you a head start in determining which questions SHOULD keep you up at night!



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