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Then what? Strategic business questions.

Every organization wants people with answers. I prefer people with questions – specific questions like: What if? Why not? Then what?

Questions do more than seek response. They provide direction. A question well asked is half answered. Ask “Then what?” and you’re exploring beyond tactics to the strategic potential of the solution.

Some solutions only postpone the problem. Some offload the problem without really solving it. Some  solve one problem but create another downstream.
Then what?

Strategic solutions consider the system and the interrelationship of its components. We have created a complex, connected, interdependent world. Every decision has a ripple effect that radiates in all directions. Seeing how actions and reactions cascade outward is the mark of a visionary leader.

Decisions have to be made. Options cannot be considered indefinitely. But, acting consciously with 360 degree vision of the impact of your decision will reveal answers to “Then what?”  It’s strategic, not tactical. It acknowledges relationships and exposes unintended consequences.

Joel Barker created a process he labeled “cascade thinking” which addressed dependencies and relationships using an Implications Wheel to assist leaders of New Orleans rethink their future after Katrina. His process was lightening fast, mission focused and created an array of highly imaginative and unexpected ideas. It’s a process that deserves exploration because it addresses complexity with simplicity. It explores “Then what?” by creating options instead of eliminating them.  


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Reader Comments (1)

One of my all-time favorite quotes: "A problem well stated is a problem half solved." - Charles F. Kettering. I have included this in Technical Support Incident Management guidelines for years. It really helps people focus on making good problem statements which speeds time-to-resolution on problems.

Thanks for the link to the implications wheel. Look forward to exploring it more. Similar to a mind map. ...and the viewer is just downright entertaining.

Friday, August 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Rutledge

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