Which is more powerful:  focusing on the solution or the question?

Early in my career I was mesmerized with the solution. Not any longer. It’s the questions that fascinate me today.  I believe focusing on the questions is a powerful approach to business and innovation.

First, we drive so much action by the questions we ask, both productive and unproductive. Questions have a powerful impact on what gets worked. I once had a CEO confess to me that he realized well into his CEO tenure that every random question he asked had become a staffed project, when he was really just curious. He inadvertently had distracted his organization without any desire to do that. The consequence was that the things he truly cared about were competing for time and resources. With this awareness, he became very disciplined in the questions he asked.

Want to change the way a company innovates, brands, etc.? Shape the questions that management asks. To fuel innovation, stop asking reliability/proof-oriented questions; instead, ask questions about insights, observations and possibilities. Spend more time querying the your people’s imaginations than metrics designed to weed out rather than fuel an idea. Want to increase discipline in the organization?

Stop asking random questions. They distract an organization.

As a leader you need to be clear about what matters and be consistent in asking only those questions.

Want to encourage your brand teams to focus on building enduring brand equities that allow profitable growth? Develop your short list of questions related to Brand Equity Health. Go beyond just share & volume.

You get what you ask.

Want to change your organization? Change your questions.


Take Action

Consider the questions that are commonly asked in your organization and inventory them.  Are they reliability oriented or discovery oriented? Business centric or human centric.  Are you asking the questions you need to achieve what you want? Create a new list of questions.

Some new questions to consider in Brand Building/Innovation:

  1. How does our brand fit into our consumer’s life? When is she receptive to our product and our messages?
  2. What struggles does our consumer face and how can our brand help resolve those?
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