Business questions sneak peek
Enjoy this sneak peek from chapter 7 of Be More Strategic in Business, and don't forget to pre-order your copy so you have it in your hands on August 15th!
Smart decisions and desired outcomes are entirely dependent upon strong planning. Albert Einstein was once asked how he would spend his time if he were given a problem upon which his life depended and he had only one hour to solve it. He responded by saying that he would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and five minutes solving it. Strategic leaders understand the importance of planning and thinking through the problem before jumping into action. This is how they are able to make smart, informed decisions.
Poorly planned projects almost always deliver confusing results, wasted time and money, uninformed decisions, and ineffective or counterproductive change. By having a plan, you have focus and structure. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t flexible when situations arise, but it does mean you home in on what’s important and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by things that aren’t aligned to your goals. Many leaders have been conditioned to jump, and that can be a good trait. But you need to make sure you’re jumping in the right place. You don’t fire, aim, ready—you ready, aim, fire!
Sometimes when I ask my clients why they made an investment in a certain program or what they expect to get out of that investment, they aren’t clear or have vague, unrealistic expectations of the desired outcome. They may have been sold something they really don’t need. When this happens, I walk them through an orderly thought process to tie the investment to a corporate goal.
If you don’t know where to start with your planning, business impact questions help you dig into your role in an organized fashion. When we talk about business impact questions, we are really keeping the end in mind by thinking about answers: what information does the business need to continually win? The questions must be focused to meet the needs of stakeholders and dictate the scope of your efforts. Focus is essential when you go wading into the sea of information. Once you understand what is critical to know, you can select the appropriate method for finding the answers—otherwise you become overwhelmed by data.
When we say business impact questions, we mean those questions designed to demonstrate the value of the function as a whole, such as “Are we delivering on our promise to our clients?” or “Are we delivering the value expected?” Like your functional strategy, the business questions are closely aligned to the corporate goals.