Asking the Right Questions

Asking the Right Questions

The two greatest indicators of what we view as important are (1) how we spend our time and (2) the questions we ask. [source]

When Warren Buffett met Bill Gates for the first time, he asked big open-ended questions about why Microsoft was so profitable and why their largest competition couldn’t do what they do. It wasn’t a rote stock picking formula, but rather an open-ended question formula to discover intelligence, relationship, and purpose.

Being an entrepreneur is a difficult path. You must learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and face challenges every day.

Regarding challenges, reframing your challenge is critical to the way that you view it. The way you view a challenge then determines whether you can tackle it head on or if it’ll get the best of you.

Push yourself and your team to shift problem statements and challenges into question goals. So rather than we don’t have any power today to run our startup. The question goal is how do we run our startup to overcome this challenge? That then puts you in a frame of mind to go find a new generator, negotiate a deal for office space on a better power grid, and more.

Making a plan is an excellent platform to launch your entrepreneurial endeavors off of. Taking that mentality and turning your challenges into question goals will prepare you for whatever lies ahead in the road.

Potholes? How do we avoid hitting them? And when we do, how do we prepare our company to fly right over them instead of smashing down into them?

Asking the right questions is powerful. And what’s interesting is that asking the right questions frames how you spend your time each day. And this is for real.

The wrong questions can put you in a tail spin headed towards zero progress. It happens. We call them circle discussions and we've banned them in our teams. Asking the right questions changes everything.

Here are examples of bad questions (although they seem normal):

  • Why is it taking so long to get the finance team to get us the cashflow statements?
  • Why haven't you finished the website plug in yet?
  • Why aren't you a better person? Did you have a bad upbringing?

Here's a better question:

  • It's been a while since we've seen cashflows—what's hindering you from getting these to us on time and how can I help?
  • Do you need any external assistance on getting the website plug in fixed?
  • I've got an idea on how to do something a little better. can I share it with you?

[HT to David Jaxon]

(photo via dave bleasdale)