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Focus on the Question

by Randall Craig on February 17, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Strategy

Tagged as: , , ,

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/Opportunities/Threats.
  • Porter’s 5 forces: Supplier power, threat of substitutes, buyer power, barriers to entry, rivalry.
  • Internal vs External Factors.
  • PEST: Political/Economic/Social/ Technological.
  • 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 objectives.

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 www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com

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About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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