Ask Key Questions You Don't Have Answers For

Written by: Alan Rodway - Your Coach Online

Organisational Success

One of the greatest missed opportunities in business and in professional life is not asking key questions we don’t know the answers to or not re-asking the questions we don’t know the answers to …. have a look at the list below:

  1. How do we, as a business, make ourselves completely unique and have no (or few) competitors?   Most businesses will suggest they ask the question frequently but they don’t … and therefore they don’t actually answer this question … they concentrate their answers on the business’s strengths.  So, they come up with things like … high levels of customer service, easy access for customers, high-quality staff, good products, reasonable pricing, etc.  Re-read that list … it’s exactly what competitors are saying and doing.  That doesn’t create uniqueness; it just keeps you in the competition.  Let’s aim to be unique, have no competitors and create market dominance.  So don’t replace the actual question with one that’s easier to answer … without even realizing you’re doing it.  Second, even businesses who actually stick to the question then give up because they can’t come up with anything …  Here’s the thing … stick to the question and the fact that it’s difficult to answer makes it the best opportunity your business has.  That’s how Apple does it (unique, or close to unique product development); that’s how Virgin Blue Airlines created market share in Australia (younger flight attendants…. completely different dialogue with travellers … and a different offer to the market); that’s how Lexus gained sales (owned by Toyota . …. different brand for the same car .).  So, torment yourself with the question … keep the question … engage the thoughts of people from outside your business …until you find your first answer (however long it takes) … never give up on the question.  And then, once you find your first answer, understand this … it’s only your first answer.  You have to re-ask the question because your competitors will copy you in three months or less.
  2. How do I, as a professional, make myself completely unique and have no (or even few) competitors?  Follow the same process as for Question 1.  This question is for the individual.  If you really want to maximize your own success, your own enjoyment, your own remuneration/returns, you need to be unique (or close to it).  Economics teaches us the Law of Demand and Supply.  The lower the Supply, the higher the Demand, the higher the Price.  Your Price is your Return.  How many competitors do you have for what you can supply to a business?  If you’re saying things like … “integrity, reliability, honesty, accountability, work ethic, etc.”, you are saying what everyone else says … there’s no uniqueness in that.  To achieve superior levels of performance and remuneration/returns, you need a different (real) story.  What’s unique about what you provide … your left field ideas?  Your past unique achievements? Do you speak 7 languages? what?  Torment yourself with the question … there’s gold in the answer.
  3. How can we fundamentally change our industry for the better?  Look at some industries that seriously prosper today from fundamental and sometimes revolutionary changes … Banking, Fast food, Petrol, Coffee shops, Insurance, Airlines.  Each of those industries has undergone a fundamental change for their own advantage …. change that someone thought of and acted upon.  Think of some industries that are stuck and you will notice a lack of foresight.  They have all failed to fundamentally change . Where are the people in those industries who can stand up and change the future, for everyone’s gain.   Many people in business feel it’s not their responsibility to change the industry they are in … and that’s correct. But it is their opportunity.
  4. What does the future look like and how do I create it today?  John Bertrand tells the most fascinating story about the Australia II victory in the America’s Cup yachting series (the first country in history to ever beat the Americans ..).  He tells how they stared into the future, ten years out, and guessed how an America’s Cup campaign would be run then.  The level of technology, the number of people involved, the marketing, the research, the testing, the physical training for the crew, the time in preparation, etc.  They then brought it all forward and did it then …  So, ask these questions … how will your business be run in three years time?  how would you like to run your business in three years time? How will your industry look in three years time?  how will your role be run in three years time?  And then, bring all your answers into the now … Yes, it’s educated guesswork, but those who chose not to entertain predicting the future are stuck in the now and will then be stuck in the past …  Being in business involves risks and this is one of them … Predict the future, both for your business and your role, and do it now ..  And, as for all four questions, if you don’t know the answers … torment yourself and others with the questions until you find your first answers .. and then keep asking them.

So, determine the key questions, ask them, and never ever give up until you find your first answers .. and then keep asking the questions … because your competitors will find out and copy you quickly … Hold the key questions you don’t have the answers for.

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