By David Shannon
So, we in the UK are venturing again onto the unknown darkness reaching out our hand in the dark – and the fist we seem today to be grasping is that of Donald Trump, the divisive President of the USA. How will the arguments over “Brexit” develop, whether hard or soft, whether secret or disclosed, whether conducted bilaterally or multilaterally?┬á Many are afraid of the complexity and of the implications.
BUT what if this is the wrong question?
Question framing is one of the most powerful tools in a leaderÔÇÖs kit, whether managing a small enterprise, a Division, a Company or a Country. We authors of The 99 Essential Business Questions compiled this guide to powerful questioning. Applying our framework to the “Brexit” debate and looking through our book for a Situation close to that facing our Prime Minister we find the Situation 7:
A crisis arises which could destroy my team.
This may well resonate with the occupant of 10 Downing Street. Following the links from this Situation to the five selected questions from the 99 we find Question No. 9:
How adaptable is my organisation?
The adjacent commentary provides four short paragraphs on why to ask oneself this question and four short paragraphs on the insights expected. To take just one each of these:
Why ask?┬á Anticipating barriers will help to surmount them.
Insight?┬á┬á ┬áTo identify the energy sappers.
Thinking creatively through such provocations, May might come up with the view that focusing on “Brexit” is both a barrier and an energy sapper. As a result of our referendum, the UK is not, after all, engaged only in Brexit. Such an exit focus concentrates the forces against change and diverts energy from other vital work. There is another answer, inspired by the adaptability question: that we have to address not just one project but one Project and a separate Programme.
The Brexit Project, readily defined in terms of initiation, stakeholders, phases, protocols, timescale and end-state is to exit the EU. In just over two years UKÔÇÖs membership of the EU will be in the past.
The future orientated Programme is to redefine UK relations with all other countries and blocks. Whilst this has some links with Brexit it nevertheless consists of several projects starting over a long period, includes non-project elements, lasts much longer, has much less clearly defined success criteria, has a more flexible budget and has success criteria still being developed. ┬áA subsidiary question now becomes what to call the Programme so as to focus peoples mind on this positive work instead of merely on the negative exit effort. Suggestions to date include:
If you wish to state a preference for one Programme name, or to offer your own which I will add to the choices, take part in our naming survey at┬áwww.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WJQGW7R┬áor let me, David Shannon. know at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Given enough responses, I will propose the favourite to a suitable politician.
This example of the use of our book may be at a higher level than your current business opportunity, but working through such challenging questions may bring you and your team also valuable insights towards engaging more positively with your future and greater success.
We all venture into unknown futures, but the right questions can direct us to reach out in the right direction.