Tipsheet: Focus on the Question

Focus on the Question

Whenever there is uncertainty, we look for answers. We investigate
alternatives, and then choose a course of action. Often, however, we are
unsatisfied with the results, or have a sinking feeling that we’ve missed a key
piece of information along the way.

Albert Einstein had an interesting approach to this: "If I had 20 days
to solve a problem, I would take 19 days to define it." Or said another
way: to get to the right answers, you need to ask the right questions.

While common sense and experience might suggest what these questions should
be, we don’t always have the requisite experience. (Or the common sense?)
Thankfully, many of these questions are embedded within Analytical Frameworks,
and can easily be applied to the problem at hand. Some of the frameworks may be
familiar to you, others not. For more information on each, just Google each of
the framework’s names.

Examples of corporately-oriented analytical frameworks:

  • 4P marketing analysis: Price, Product, Promo, and Place.
  • Consumer analysis: Who/what/where/when/why/how.
  • SWOT: Strengths/Weaknesses/
  • Porter’s 5 forces: Supplier power, threat of substitutes, buyer power,
    barriers to entry, rivalry.
  • Internal vs External Factors.
  • PEST: Political/Economic/Social/
  • Fixed vs Variable cost analysis.

Examples of personally-oriented analytical frameworks:

  • Job Quality Checklist: When to leave your job.
  • Personal Balance Sheet: How to evaluate and set your work-life balance

Of course, just because you might know and use one of these frameworks,
doesn’t mean that you ignore your "gut" – it just means that you have
more questions to choose from, and more avenues to explore.

This week’s action item: When faced with a critical
decision, don’t immediately rush to conclusions, but focus on the questions
instead. Whether you use analytical frameworks or not, asking great questions is
the best way to get a great answer – and great results.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to
to register.

Randall Craig

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Randall Craig has founded several successful start-ups, held a long-time position at a “big-four” consulting firm, and was an executive at an American public company. He currently serves as the 108 ideaspace CEO and chief strategist. Randall has been advising on digital strategy since 1994: he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations.

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