“Most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.” Peter Drucker
When people start to work through issues, they often tell stories, give examples, and rehash events and conversations. Rarely do they slow down, take time to think, and pause long enough to determine the root cause of the symptoms they are ruminating in. They defend their hard work and efforts to justify the stories and frustrations they have with the lack of results. Confusing activity with productivity is a major saboteur of success in business. Just because you’re sweating, doesn’t mean it’s working.
In the book, “The Road Less Stupid,” by Keith Cunningham, he identifies three fundamental questions to ask to get clarity about the root problem.
1) What are the possible reasons I am noticing this symptom?
2) What isn’t happening that if it did happen, would cause the perceived gap (symptoms) to either narrow or disappear?
3) What is happening that, if it stopped happening, would cause the perceived gap (symptoms) to narrow or disappear?
Misdiagnosing the problem or working on the wrong priorities is not a result of having the wrong answers, it’s the result of asking the wrong questions.