The Systems Thinker does not always know the right answers, but he or she is one who asks the right questions. Effective questions are the key to problem-solving, innovation, and unlocking our full potential. In fact, enlightened questions often point to brilliant solutions.
It takes as much skill to ask the right question as it does to give the right answer!
Good Questions Lead to Improvement
- What is standing in our way of being a much better company?
- What new market opportunities can we exploit? What other business strategies would increase market share and growth?
- What does our target market want that they are not currently getting? What innovative products, features, benefits, or services could we add?
- How do we plan to get more customers? How can we sell more to each customer (cross-sell or up-sell)? How can we make our customers more aware of all our products and services?
- What are our most frequent or challenging customer service questions? What gives our customers the greatest pain or causes the most complaints in doing business with us? How can we give the customer a more pleasurable buying experience? What specifically are we doing to create loyal customers?
- How can we provide better quality products or services than our competitors? How can we deliver faster than the market norm? What can we do to reduce cost or give more value to customers than the competition? (see Better, Faster, Cheaper).
- What business systems and processes must we excel at? Which process has the most need for improvement? What new system or process would add value to our market and attract more customers? What innovative business system would rock our industry (e.g. FedEx overnight delivery)?
- How do we plan to attract the best employees? What can we do to retain loyal people? How do we provide a better place to work? What would help employees become more empowered or productive? (see The Right People)
Good Questions Lead to Profit
Asking questions of customers or employees not only provides valuable information, it shows you have a genuine interest and respect for the opinions and suggestions of others. If you listen carefully, wanting to be taught, people will often reveal ideas that can make your company better and more profitable.
Asking questions is also the best way to teach. In the words of a professional trainer, “To tell is to preach. To ask is to teach.”
Chet Holmes, a well-known marketing and sales teacher who died prematurely used questions very effectively. Go to THE ZONE and check out his three-page article, “Creating Great Businesses.” Chet gives an example of how he helped one business implement nineteen important improvements, all stemming from a single question.
So, what question would get your team fired-up to make needed improvements?