Beyond the Default Questions

gray pathway surrounded by green tress
Push beyond the well-worn path.

I think we all have a default set of questions about new things we’re planning.

For an event, mine are:  Who? What? When? Where? How?

For an initiative at work, I use:

  • What’s the goal?
  • Who’s in charge?
  • What metrics will we track?
  • What’s the budget?
  • What’s the timeline?

Recently, I’ve noticed two questions I should be asking more often.

The first is simple:  “What’s the backup plan?”

“…I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” -Dwight Eisenhower

There’s bound to be friction, delays, bumps in the road–particularly with new initiatives, when change is happening and people are involved.  Thinking through contingencies is an easy way to make success more likely.

The second is a brilliant question I’ve learned from my manager: “How should this feel for our customers?”

“People will forget what you said, and they’ll forget what you did.  But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

This question often comes as the project details are being fleshed out.  I’m usually thinking about the list of things that needs to happen, the timeline, the details, and the budget–all the default questions I have out of habit.

Posing this question forces me to step back–to make my plans more welcoming, more relationship-focused, warmer, and more engaging.  And, so far, the results are always better for it.  It’s easy to forget that if you miss on the feel you’re trying to create, the other details cease to matter.

I hope these ideas let you challenge your default questions this week.  Stay encouraged!



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