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10 Good Operating Questions

I am a firm believer in Management By Question. It is not a trend, school of thought or widely accepted business management model but it should be.

In fact I believe the core task of management is to  ask lots of good, insightful questions and follow the answers. A well considered insightful question does not display ignorance but wisdom. Ask people to walk you through their reasoning and plans. And "why is that?" is perhaps the best starter of all.

The most important thing is to ask, then shut up and listen, You also want to ask follow up questions such as "Why is that?" to elicit facts, "Why do you feel that way? to dig deeper into their thinking, and "Can you walk me through that please" to get a better picture of what they are thinking.

All primary and follow up questions should start with Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, Can we, How could we, Is, If, ... and their variants.

This is because answers to Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How describe and reflect reality while How could we, Is, If, ... and their variants elicit ideas and possibilities.

1. How does what we\you are doing create value for our customer?

2. Can it be done faster, easier, cheaper, and still deliver the same quality and value?

3. Is there something more, better, smarter we\you can be doing that improves the quality and value?

4. What mistakes are we\you making most often?

5. What resources and activities are causing the most problems?

6) What can I\we do to help you be more successful?

7. Are we still using the right people and are they well enough trained, instructed and motivated?

8. Am I\are we still measuring the right things and getting the right information?

9. Are we still using the best price, quality, dependable suppliers?

10. Have the operating risks in our people, alliances, strategies, methods, systems, technology or facilities changed?

© 2015 John B Voorpostel CPA, CA, CMB

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