Did I ever tell you I love questions? I ask them constantly, and collect them intensely. For the purpose of culture, leadership, strategy and innovation, there are many types of questions that if used correctly can help you see a challenge from different perspectives that may lead to developing unique solutions; the types that can be revolutionary.
Innovative leaders ask themselves questions all the time, because well placed questions provide focus and perspective necessary for innovation. Dan Rockwell, aka @LeadershipFreak, shared some key strategy questions on his blog that are quite useful:
- What business are we in?
- What business aren’t we in? “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Michael Porter
- What does success look like?
- What do we aspire to achieve? “Sound strategy starts with the right goal.” Michael Porter
- Who are our current and potential customers? Drucker makes it clear, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”
- Who aren’t our customers? “You can’t be all things to all people.” Michael Porter
- How will we create new customers?
- How will we keep current customers?
- What are current strengths and capacities?
- What strengths and capacities must we develop?
- How will we monitor and measure success?
- What management systems best exploit and enhance our strengths and capacities.
- Who are our current and potential customers?
- Who aren’t our customers?
To the above, I’ll add some questions for crystallizing strategy I’ve used as an individual, for my own projects and my consulting work:
- Why do we exist? (purpose)
- What are our individual motivations?
- Big picture, what are we really trying to do? (What will make people care?)
- How exactly will our customers benefit from out venture/concept?
- Will our ideas/problems tackled be a) incremental (refine), b) evolutionary (refresh), or c) revolutionary (re-imagine)?
- As a whole, what is an ideal outcome?
- What happens if we don’t do it?
- What has to be true for our concept to work?
- How will we know we are succeeding?
- How might we fail?
Next level questions
- What business are we in? – subject, type of people
- How ‘big’ do we want to be?
- What are our guiding principles (values), style of engagement?
- How will people feel them?
- What do we want others to copy from us?
- What will we do that others cannot?
- What will we deliberately not do?
- How do we want to be remembered?
Bottom line: Companies and people will have many hopes and possibilities, but they need a strategy to realize them; the above questions will help you crystallize strategy.