Questions are at the heart of really great thinking.  We have a tendency to believe that answers are at the heart…but the truth is that questions determine so much.  Ask the right questions and you find the right answers.  Ask the wrong questions and you end up with answers that are either irrelevant or insignificant.

Peter Drucker was a master framer of questions.  In fact, that may be his most significant contribution.  Determining the right questions what his gift to all of us.  Three of his best known questions were, "What business are you in?"  "Who is your customer?"  And, "What will you call success?"  You could easily spend a day or even a week thinking through the answers to those questions for your own organization.  That would be time really well spent.

Another of his great question sets concerned the required thinking about our individual contributions.  Here are his questions for each of us (and for every member of your team):

Think about the effect this little exercise would have on your productivity.  On your impact.  There’s a lot in these 4 simple questions.  Not easy questions.  Simple.  Wouldn’t they lead somewhere really good?  Wouldn’t they lead somewhere great for your whole team?

As helpful as these questions are, I love Drucker’s summary statement: "The how comes only after the what has been answered (The Daily Drucker, May 24)."  How many of us spend most of our time thinking about how and almost nothing on what?

Take the pebble from my hand…grasshopper.

Getting to How
  • Well put, Mark.
    I’ve sometimes realized that I earn my consulting dollars from actually pulling people back from their activities.
    They’ve gotten themselves into difficulty by moving ahead with how they would do something but ignored the intentionality of the “what” (and “why”) questions.
    Now I have to think through these for myself 🙂

  • Thanks Steve! Isn’t the challenge for many of us to simply slow down and do what we know to do: determine the right questions, take the time to think through them, and then do what is called for.