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Ask the right questions to get the right answers

Big-picture Perspective . In this column I continue with a series of articles that identifies how to explore different perspec-tives driving success related to something (the situation) that you want to decide, resolve, plan and implement. Today, I look at the perspective of the ‘big picture’. Before you and your key people embark on any initiative to change or improve things, spend some time exploring people’s perceptions, understanding and commitment from the point of view of the big picture. Here is a list of questions that you and relevant 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. Related to this situation, what is the bigger picture and what is the connection? How could we optimise return to investors and return on capital expenditure? How could we incorporate shareholder, customer, employee, environment and community needs? Does our focus require a new definition of our business, a new strategic orientation or realignment, a new structure, a significant change in the workforce skill mix or profile or a substantive change in culture? How? What are the longer-term implications in this situation? How could we incorporate the longer-term implications in our focus? What is the rationale or research behind our focus? Why is it important to do things differently? What are the underlying forces that are driving this situation or change? What are the wider ramifications on all stakeholders if we do or don’t do this? What resources will be needed to achieve our desired outcome here? What are the important decisions that we will need to make? What needs and/or wants could we meet if we achieve our focus? How are our major customers or end-users changing? How are our main markets, outlets or distribution channels changing? What impact does this have on our focus? How has our business changed from what it was five or ten years ago? How has the environment in which we operate changed or how is it likely to change in the near future? What should be different about our business five to ten years into the future? What impact does any of this have on our focus? What are our main economic concerns? Where does our main income and capital come from? Where is it likely to come from in the future? What impact does this have on our focus? What are the threats and opportunities facing our operation/industry/our market segment/cash flow? What impact does this have on our focus? What actions can we take to mitigate the impact of identifiable factors that are beyond our control? What things are important to our organisation in relation to our sustainable development, image, leadership in industry, the comm.-unity, the environment, marketing, equal opportunity, innovation, risk-taking, quality, management style, culture, values, etc? What special considerations do we have in relation to owners or shareholders, parent organisation, employees, cust-omers, suppliers, the general public, unions, legislation, government? How are we separating fact from opinion? How are we drilling down to get the facts? For example? What are the ways that we think that could be detrimental to the way we are conducting this discussion? What could be better ways to think to drive the way we conduct this discussion? 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 organisations 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 www.bobsbooks.com.au See the Super-Thinker ® at www.space123.com Contact Daniel dk@space123.com

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