The Power of the Right Question

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” – Voltaire

Business progress is often driven by the ability to ask the right questions. These are the kinds of questions that lead to innovative products, improved services, and better customer experiences.

Reed Hastings, frustrated with a $40 late fee, questioned the traditional video rental business model by asking “What if we eliminate late fees?” This question was the seed that grew into Netflix’s subscription model, disrupting the video rental industry and eventually leading to the dominance of streaming services.

Similarly, look at how Toyota challenged the automotive industry’s status quo by asking, “How can we reduce vehicle emissions?” This spurred the development of the Prius, which became a catalyst for the hybrid vehicle market.

Both instances show that asking the right question is a critical step in identifying the problem you’re trying to solve or the improvement you’re trying to make.

Action Step: This week, focus on a key area of your business that you want to improve. Instead of jumping straight into solutions, start with a question. If customer churn is an issue, ask “What is causing our customers to leave?” If it’s a productivity concern, ask “What are the specific bottlenecks in our operation?”

Take the time to deeply consider these questions, involve your team in the process, and document your answers. The clarity gained from this exercise will not only help you understand the problem more deeply, but will also guide you towards more effective solutions.

Asking the right questions is a discipline that can dramatically enhance your strategic thinking and decision-making process. To learn more about how you can formulate and ask the right questions in your business, be sure to check out our book of the week: “The Road Less Stupid” by Keith Cunningham.

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