One of the best ways to improve anything is to find the right and hard questions to work on addressing. The toughest part of that strategy is identifying what those hard questions are. Too many times the person that needs to address that question is so bogged down in the actual thing that wants/needs to be improved that they are blind to what the hardest questions are.
Instead of a suggestion box, we need hard question boxes.
What if the group/person/organization had a way to specifically ask for insight into what those hard questions could be from reputable sources?
Suggestions mean that the person submitting thinks they know the answer, a hard question box gives the actual owner(s) of the thing being addressed the chance to see the areas that could be addressed then decide what/how to address them. Of course, they could always open up for suggestions, too.
How else could you identify the hardest things to work on, because chances are those are the most important as well.
**This is related to the The Question Recorder
A few days ago, I got an informational handout from a company that made me laugh. Basically, the bottom of the page featured the disclaimer: “Reproduction by any means is prohibited without permission. If you’d like to purchase copies of this handout please…”
This was from a consulting company that makes all of its money from in-person engagements with medium to large companies.
If you were running a consulting business and wanted to get more leads and help other people share how great you were as a company, wouldn’t you let people copy and distribute simple handouts? But let’s be clear. I’m not saying they should allow folks to steal their copyrighted information or intellectual capital.
The more your name and information is out there, the more chances you have to book an engagement.
What are you giving away? What are you not giving away? Worse yet, what are you scaring your existing customers from not sharing by means of your outdated policies?
If the phrases “we just have to get through this next quarter” or “we just have to stabilize until the customers return and it goes back to the way it was” enter into the conversation when you’re about to make business decisions, you should realize that you’re already starting your decision making process from the wrong place.
Many music companies and newspapers thought their customers were coming back and in order to survive all they had to do was “hold on” until things turned back to the way they were.
The customers aren’t coming back, it’s never going to be like it was, and the things affecting your business aren’t going away.
Relying on things to go back to the way they were is short term thinking. It’s easy to fall into that trap because the answers to short term problems are easy (layoffs to make a number for wall street, cutting R&D or relationship building expenses).
The challenge and opportunity is to focus on the real issues and plan how to survive long term. Long term thinking presents hard problems and forces harder conversations because it demands that you challenge what has made you successful in the past in order to thrive in the coming future.
You’ll only be in business for the long term, when you start to think and design for the long term.