Questions guide my decisions and actions more than any other factor. I think they are the key to self-management in the economy of speed.
A few weeks ago I had just come back from an urban spring holiday abroad. On Monday morning I drew up my customary plans for the week by pondering the question of what I was going to achieve by the end of it.
It was then that I happened across a message from coach Ilkka Koppelomäki recommending a moment spent each morning reflecting on what we want to aim for today. In other words, what we would like to create over the coming day.
This question brought an entirely new purpose and energy to my weekly planning. It framed the weekly list in a new way, leading to plans that were quite different from those that arise on considering what I intended to achieve in the week. So instead of drawing up a to-do list, I decided to consider what I would consciously set out to create in my life, either alone or working with others. Thank you, Ilkka!
The Magic of Questions and Customer Benefits
I use questions actively to guide my own actions and decisions. I seek out effective and empowering questions. Though I think I’m quite good at this, I still need questions from others to disrupt the old familiar thought patterns.
A quick, agile, learning and innovative organisation succeeds in the economy of speed by retaining the lead in making things that generate customer benefits. How can we use the magical power of questions to realise the economy of speed?
1. Questions Help to Foster Common Understanding
I have often found that even close colleagues can have widely differing views on the same issue, such as approaches to implementing a business strategy. Monitoring questions is an easier way to identify the testable assumptions that a culture of experimentation seeks to confirm or refute by investigating the facts. The right questions give us the courage to try out various approaches, and they serve as a means of managing effectively through practical measures. It is only through action that a strategy is made to happen.
2. The Right Questions Help Us to Recognise Emerging Opportunities
I think we would have more successful growth enterprises if we took decisions by evaluating opportunities. Jim Collins explains that the difference between success and failure has less to do with good fortune and more to do with seizing the opportunities that come up.
“I use questions actively to guide my own actions and decisions. I seek out effective and empowering questions.”
And in order to seize an opportunity, we must first recognise it. Certain key questions can help us spot emerging opportunities. What can I learn from this encounter and this individual? What kind of partnership could this lead to in an ideal world? What do we need to enable that collaboration?
3. Questions Are a Tool of Self-Management
The best success arises when everyone has an experience of meaningful work. This is when people come alive! Questions help you focus on what is important and on how to make progress. With everyone now already living in the economy of speed, there is no reason why we shouldn’t enjoy the ride. And if you feel that things didn’t go so well today, then what will you do better tomorrow? Innovation emerges more readily from actively engaging than from idly dreaming, so think about the valuable lessons that you have learned.