When discussing our business model, it is initially common for our audience to be slightly taken aback when describing that a major part of the service we provide is, “Asking Questions.” And yes… we are compensated handsomely for this.
Why and how do we justify it?
Organizations that seek our help are normally well fixed in some sort of conundrum – minor or major proportions – whereby they simply cannot seem to get out of their own way. This appears to be true of guys with bright ideas, start-ups, emerging companies or even those entities which have been fortunate enough to operate successfully but cannot seem to break-out to the next level. And while we provide a host of services and access to various financial facilities, still yet again, the most important of our offerings is, asking questions.
The Harvard Business Review (blog site) recently published a piece written by Polly LaBarre of Management Innovation eXchange entiled: “The Question That Will Change Your Organization.” LaBarre begins by setting the stage with a statement made by Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company magazine. He was quoted as saying, “A good question beats a good answer.”
She then goes on to describe why asking questions completely outweighs the inherent need to lead with solutions.
(1) Questions are a powerful antidote to hubris
(2) The best questions are the bedrock of all change and creativity
(3) Asking good questions trades control for contribution
Our favorite of the three is a toss-up between 2 and 3.
Beginning with #3 – Asking good questions trades control for contribution – is the foundation of our ability to build an initial relationship with our clients. As the article states, “Questions create conversations.” It is through these conversations where we not only get to know our clients better, but actually allows them to both tell their story and see the greater/newer possibilities of their own vision.
This process isn’t a few hours or a day or two. It is an ongoing and ever evolving process that we dedicate ourselves to. It gives us the insight into an industry’s history, the company’s current story, the product’s appeal and how the public/investing markets views the company and its wears today.
#2 – The best questions are the bedrock of all change and creativity – as logically, how can change occur if the current condition and circumstance isn’t examined and questioned thoroughly? These questions include searching for what works vs. what doesn’t work. What’s been tried or not been tried. What’s going on in the world today vs. just one year ago. [Questions] In order to facilitate change, the status quo must first be disrupted.
When building an organization, opposition to the vision must be welcomed and the core values of a company’s position, tried and tested by strong debate – both deriving from disruptive and aggressive questioning. This is essential to ensuring that a credible, transparent and productive company is the supreme result of much dedication and hard work. Something the investing public will thank you for.
It goes without saying that the art of asking questions is a mastery we pursue with great vigor. We practice what we preach as there is no shortage of healthy discussions [internally] around the questions we ask ourselves as we too, wish to build a credible, transparent and productive organization that our client-companies and their shareholders can be excited about.