Ask the right questions get the right answers

BEFORE you spend time trying to decide, resolve or plan something, it will increase your chances of a successful outcome if all people have the same agreement of the ‘bottom line’.The bottom line can relate to more than just profits. The important thing is that you and others are agreed on just what is the bottom line as it applies to whatever you are deciding, planning or resolving. Before you embark on any initiative to change or improve things, spend some time exploring people’s percep-tions, understanding and commitment to your bottom line. Here is a list of questions that you and others could consider. You don’t need to answer all questions – just those that resonate with you and your situation. Some questions will produce the same answer. Reason? Sometimes you can ask a question and get no answer. Rephrase the question and, bingo, you get an answer. Give this list to the relevant people and give them time to reflect on the questions, then discuss and explore all viewpoints. 1. What are we really trying to achieve here? What must we deliver? What is our real business purpose here? The desired end result? What is the footprint that we want to leave? What is acceptable? What is unacceptable? When we eliminate all the things that don’t really matter, what are we compelled to achieve? If we could accomplish only one thing in this situation, what should it be? 2. What is the bottom line here in relation to economic, human capital, environmental and social sustainability? 3. Do we all know and agree why we are doing what we are doing? Why are we doing what we are doing? 4. In relation to our focus, who is our customer here and what does the customer consider to be value? What is of paramount importance to the customer in this situation? 5. Do we need to change our bottom line because other external and/or internal factors have changed? Why? How? 6. In relation to our focus, how well are different areas aligned with our bottom line? What are the prevailing attitudes of key stakeholders to our bottom line? 7. Are we deviating from the bottom line in this discussion? Have we lost sight of the bottom line? Are we staying focused on the bottom line here? 8. How well are we aligned in our perceptions of the bottom line? How well are we aligned with our strategy for achieving the bottom line? 9. Is all of our decision-making made easier because we all have the same interpretation of the bottom line? How well are all our decisions, plans and strategies connected to the same bottom line? 10. Is bottom line thinking built into our culture? How frequently do we refer to the bottom line? 11. How might our current ways of thinking about the bottom line be limiting our effectiveness or future success in this situation? 12. What other ways of thinking about the bottom line might serve us better? Daniel Kehoe created and developed the Super-Thinker ® – an outstanding and innovative tool for decision making, problem solving and planning. He has worked as a management consultant / facilitator since 1979 in Australia and overseas. In that time he has worked with over 5,000 managers ranging from chief executives to frontline managers. He has spent thousands of hours listening to and exploring the important perspectives and issues driving success. The list of organis-ations he has consulted to reads like a Who’s Who of Australian commerce and industry. Daniel is a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants and is the author of the best-selling You Lead, They’ll Follow book series, volumes 1, 2 and 3 published by McGraw Hill and sold worldwide. On-line More about the Super-Thinker ® at Contact Daniel

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