The power of asking & answering the right questions

Among the most important and yet often neglected core competencies are (1) asking the right questions, (b) obtaining the right answers to them, and then (3) taking appropriate action.

Peter Drucker asserts that decision-makers should focus only what is most important as opposed to what is merely urgent. All effective leaders ask the right questions and those questions tend to remain the same. Here are five from Drucker:

1. What is your mission?

2. Who is your customer?

3. What does your customer value?

4. What results are you trying to accomplish?

5. What is your plan?

It is easy to ask such questions but sometimes very difficult to know what the right questions to ask are. Drucker would be the first to point out that seeking an answer to the wrong question is at least as foolish as (in his words) “doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Now consider what Fred Reichheld has to say about obtaining customer feedback. Decades of real-world experience and research convinced him that there is one measure that is more predictive of future business success than any other. He calls it the “Ultimate Question”:

Would you recommend us to others?

More specifically, ask customers on a regular basis, preferably after every interaction, on a scale of one to ten, “Would you recommend us to others?” Then, whatever score you receive that is less than ten, immediately follow up by asking “What would we have to do to earn a ten from you?”

Finally, here are what I consider to be the questions that must always be asked when formulating or revising a marketing plan. The first two are relatively easy to answer. Success or failure depends almost entirely on the answer to the third:

1. Who are you?

2. What do you do?

3. Why should I care?

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