Now is the time to ask questions

Ask questionsWhen you are ready to take your organization to the next level, begin by asking two kinds of questions. “What” questions help to clarify the vision and mission; “how” questions elicit processes, actions, and/or solutions. Note the difference between: “What is next?” and “How can we reach the next step?” Know which questions to ask to move the process along to the next step in its growth.

The same basic rule applies to asking these questions as any other productive question: avoid yes/no or closed-end questions. Ask questions that open new ground. Here are three ideas:

  •  Ask a compelling question or set an ambitious goal. For example Elon Musk challenged his team to design something truly revolutionary— light years ahead of anything else.
  •  Ask the “elephant in the room” question. For example, “How can we improve cycle time without adding cost?” Or, “How can we improve communications with our London office without stepping on corporate toes?”
  •  Ask a question that expands or provokes people to think differently. For me, it was “How do we help women transition from lives of violence?” that changed how people thought and created opportunity for innovative solution

Asking a compelling question underlies the format of this book; as you have considered the questions, I trust that you have gained new insights and broadened your perspective and, as a result, sharpened your ability to act. Asking questions is a skill that all leaders have, but it often gets pushed aside by the temptation to provide answers. No one has all gtst-book_logo-5_2016the answers. Asking a provocative question inspires people to think, to find new solutions and blaze new trails. To succeed, step back from your day-to-day, reflect and list the questions that if they are addressed (no: when they are addressed) will open onto new terrain—products, processes, and clients—for your organization.

Above all, always act with integrity: do not ask a question if you already know the answer or ignite a conversation in an area you are not going to fix.

From Chapter 16:  How Can I Take My Organization to the Next Level

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