The Big Question

Leadership Comments Off on The Big Question

What keeps you up at night? What is the big question you’re dealing with? It may have to do with markets, products, infrastructure, etc.

Are you using all of the resources available to you to answer this question?

The one resource I see most under-used is the people who work at your company.

How about if you share the big question with them?

Are your big questions only for the leadership team? Are they only for directors and above? Are they only for managers? Are people too busy working to work on these big questions? Hmm?

One CEO we work with was wrestling with a big question about focus in the marketplace and priorities at the local levels and alignment with strategy. His concern was the slight variations that can get you off track, especially when you’re dealing with over 1,000 employees.

He recently returned from the obligatory company tour and town hall meetings realizing that he had a great resource at his fingertips.

He carefully worded an email with the question and sent it to everyone. There are many tools available instead of email like the intranet and other collaborative tools, but the key was to touch everyone.

The answers started coming in. Thoughtful, engaged, caring answers. Rather than tallying the responses like you would a survey the CEO just listened for the voice of the company.

Have you noticed that when you ask a significant question you get a view into the real person based on their answer?

You can really learn a lot about the people who work at your company based on how they answer these big questions. Perhaps there is a great thinker hidden behind a machine or a department structure that you don’t normally access.

You also may find that some people are not at all in sync with what’s happening in the organization. That is helpful information as well.

The CEO in our example found it very interesting that some people chose not to respond to his question. He sent a follow-up email to those who didn’t respond. The follow-up message basically said: “I sent an important question to you via email last week and really want your insights. Perhaps my email got lost in the shuffle. I’d like you to adjust your schedule this week to spend some quality time considering this question. I’d like to hear from you by Monday morning.”

He realized that people weren’t used to having their opinions valued. People get used to having someone else fix it. People may feel like their voice doesn’t matter.

The CEO responded to each person. He identified follow-up action steps with many people. It was worth the effort because, after all it was the big question. It needed an answer.

In effect, everyone got involved in working on the big question.



We’re in it together

To do this week: Look at your big question. Can you get insight from the important resource represented by the people who work at your company?

Let me know how it’s going. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.

Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On May 26, 2017
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