"If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask..."
~ Albert Einstein ~
"Leadership is not as much about knowing the right answers, as it is knowing the right questions."
~ Bob Tiede, Author,
Now That's a Great Question ~
"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."
~ Pablo Picasso ~
What questions have you been asking the people on your team? How often does your question cause someone to stop and think about their answer? How often does your question inspire and influence the other person to challenge their existing assumptions, create innovative ideas to grow your business or walk away feeling more engaged and committed to the mission of your organization?
Learning to ask the right question at the right time is one of the most effective ways to bring out the best in the people around you and help your company thrive.
The creative solutions required to help your organization win when the game keeps changing will not come by asking your clients what they want. As Henry Ford said, "If I asked customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."
Clients are a great source of ideas for enhancing the value of your current products and services, but they rarely help you create profitable and sustainable growth in the future.
No focus group asked for Google, Amazon or Airbnb.
The most successful new products and services come from individuals who ask the right questions about what people might need before they know they need it.
Too many organizations today rely on yesterday's game plan to win tomorrow's game.
A small restaurant near my home just closed. They were located next to a Whole Foods. I'm sure when Whole Foods created a little bar and started serving their customers wine and meals, they never dreamt they would be in competition with a grocery store. Now they're out of business.
When you're the best "high jumper" in your industry, it's tempting to believe you can keep winning as long as you do what you've always done. That strategy works well until a non-traditional competitor enters your market with a pole and overnight you have to compete in the "pole vault."
The best ideas for how to be the resource of first choice to the clients you choose to serve, attract and retain the best talent and create sustainable growth will come from your diverse group of talented team members.
Every organization who has clients that refuse to adapt are also at risk. The banker, lawyer, accountant, and all the vendors who were serving the restaurant that closed next to the Whole Foods have one less client to bill.
Positive leaders know if they wait until they need to change, it might be too late.
I encourage you to make a list of 5 people in your organization that have never been asked to share their opinion on how to attract new business. Then start asking for their ideas to increase sales.
It's important to remember, it's not easy to answer a question that requires a person to think about things they haven't thought of before. You may here...
"I don't know" the first time you ask them a question they're not used to hearing. If you do get little or no response, refrain from answering your own question. Instead ask... "What could you do to find out?"
Warren Berger, Author of A More Beautiful Question, says the right questions
"have the ability to trigger divergent thinking, in which the mind seeks multiple, sometimes non-obvious paths to a solution. Asking good questions and doing so often opens people to new ideas and possibilities."
If you'd like to learn more about how to ask the right questions, you may want to review an article I wrote called, Ask & Receive.