A thief was caught after stealing some paintings from the Louvre in Paris, when his getaway van ran out of fuel. Given bail at his first hearing, a reporter asked him on the steps of the courthouse, how he forgot such a vital part of his plan. “Simple,” said the thief, “I had no Monet for Degas to make the Van Gogh.”
Indeed, how did this bandit forget the most vital aspect of his planning? The runaway van is the most essential resource in his project’s management and preparation. Should he have been prudent by preparing a check list and asking himself questions like” What are the crucial aspects of my plan? What can go wrong? He would have had a successful enterprize! I am not condoning this crook’s actions, but certainly applaud the merits of the story.
Likewise, in business, excellent questions when applied to series of situations including business planning endeavors can help entrepreneurs focus their critical thinking and lead them to bright and new directions. Without a doubt, great questions once applied in a timely and proactive manner can uncover the reasons for unexpected successes or failures, and stimulate possible solutions.
Successful entrepreneurs keep a tool kit of effective questions in their arsenal. They call them “Killer Questions”. They have long realized that business’ strategic planning and development starts by prescribing to empowering questions that direct their management’s thinking and channel their energy towards actionable strategies, paving the way to a sustainable success. When they sense that their businesses may face some challenges, they solicit their proactive mode by asking; “What is the question we need to ask right now?” To determine where they are going, they need to know exactly where they stand, then establish where they want to go and how they will get there. These precise questions guide the organization in its quest towards attainable strategic objectives.
Conversely, some unsuspecting entrepreneurs ask toxic and unhelpful questions such as; What if we are wrong? What if we fail? What will our friends, associates and family think? Why do we always miss our targets? These questions are destructive and can dim the organization’s vision and its direction.
Instead, affirmative questions are the answer. They will lead the organization out of a quagmire and set the foundation for its effective business development. Some useful questions to ask before initiating any strategic business planning would be the following:
• What do we do, and for whom we do it?
• How can we make our business better?
• What are our goals?
• What are our risks?
• How can we beat, or avoid the competition?
• How can we verify that our strategies are working?
• Are there better tactics to accomplishing our outcomes?
The fascinating point in relation to a question is that it basically presupposes an answer; it also presupposes the validity of the question and sets the scene for engineering a believable solution, regardless of it being right or wrong. Furthermore, in the context of the strategic business development process, questions reveal the creative performance of the organization and open the door to its true knowledge and innovation.
The choice is yours. There are illuminating questions that enlighten your vision and move your business forward; and there are destructive questions that obscure your way and obliterate your future. When faced with a dilemma, or if your plans are not going your way, pay attention to the self chatter in your head, and ensure that you catch yourself asking constructive questions like” Am I asking the right question right now? Conquer your “demons” and become accustomed to asking yourself positive and enlightening questions and turn your life and your business into a spectacular success.