Power of Questions

In change it is important to ask the right question. Questioning is an extension of listening

Questions are powerful for the following reasons:

i) provide a menu with choice

ii) move the listeners' role from counter-arguing, ie thinking of all the reasons they disagree with the statement, to figuring out an answer to the question

iii) increases buy-in, ownership, participation, etc as the answer to the question is their own, ie reflecting their own personal thoughts, beliefs, preferences, etc; this will increase the chance of taking action

iv) encourage listeners to commit to a conclusion, ie

"...to behave consistently with whatever answer they gave..."

Jonah Berger, 2020

An example of the power of questioning was Peter Drucker's (management consultant guru) approach. When invited into an organisation

"...he wouldn't provide you with any answers, but with the right questions you and your management team should be asking yourselves - then you'll have the answers......He didn't give a lecture, but he will provide you with insight on a number of important issues for your company's management to consider such as, what you know and don't know about the future, and what this might mean for your business strategy..."

Robert Swaim, 2021

Some questions that Drucker used (for more detail, see technique 2.5 - some important questions)

1. What is the purpose of your business? (it's more than making profit; it's about creating a customer. Need to develop strategies to create and retain customers

NB Remember it takes up to 5 times more costs to gain a new customer than to retain existing customers)

2. What is your business? (need to define: Who are the customers? Where are they? What does the customer buy?

"... Each customer defines a different business, has different expectations and values and buys something different......need to look outside from the point of view of the customer and market..."

Robert Swaim, 2021

Need to start with the customers' reality, their situation, their behaviour, their expectations, values, etc)

3. What will your business be? (the goal is to adapt to anticipated changes by modifying and developing ongoing business; there are 4 factors (including some additional questions) to this:

    i) market potential and market trends

        - how large can you expect your market and your business to be in 5 or 10 years based on current situation?

        - what will be the factors that will determine this development?

    ii) changes in market structure

        - what expected changes in market structure are occurring as a result of economic developments, changes in fashion or tastes, or competition or technology?

    iii) innovation

        - what innovations will change customers' wants like creating new ones, extinguishing old ones, creating new ways of satisfying their wants, change their concept of value and will make it possible to give them greater value satisfaction?

        - what innovations are occurring in your industry?

    iv) customer

        - what unsatisfied wants does the customer have?)

4. What should our business be? (this involves developing a vision of the future by asking the following question

        - what observable changes in the environment will have an impact on the characteristics, vision and purpose of the business?

        - what opportunities are happening or can be created to fulfill the purpose and mission of the business? Will these create a different business?

        - how to incorporate these changes into objectives, strategies and work assignment?

        - can management anticipate changes that will impact on their business?

NB Change in population, ie demographics, is one of the few predictive indicators available

"...the ability to answer these questions ( consumers' wants) makes a difference between a growth company and one that depends for its development the rising tide economy or industry. Whoever is content to rise with the tide will also fall with it..."

Peter Drucker as quoted by Robert Swaim, 2021)

Question 1 is about mission and question 4 about vision.


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