Matt got to the point. “I’ve been using your book ASK with my teenage son. Now I’m wondering if starting with questions might be the best way for me to find the answers I need for my company.”
Matt, age 42, explained that his main challenge was that his company was unknown to many potential clients. The previous owner had not effectively marketed the products and services of his shops.
I wanted to make sure I understood him. “You bought four cycling shops about a year ago in three North Carolina cities. And you believe that the right questions will help you create better success for your shops?”
“Yes,” he answered. “Questions have given me greater insight into my son and to myself. So why couldn’t I get more insight and better answers for my business by asking the right questions?”
I had used the questions-before-answers strategy with other individuals and groups, and the results had been impressive. So I told Matt that I agreed.
Here’s what seeking answers before finding the right questions does: it blinds us to the broad range of possibilities for taking on the challenges we face.
In contrast, starting with questions stimulates our curiosity and opens our mind to creative solutions for making ideas happen.
I suggested to Matt that he and I begin with a “question-storming” session.
The next day I stood at a white board for two hours, writing any and all questions that came to our minds about Matt’s business; there were no “bad” questions.
If an answer surfaced during the session, it would immediately be scrapped. Only questions would be written on the board; qualifying and prioritizing those questions would come later.
Over the next three coaching sessions, we identified six questions that could help Matt develop a manageable, but inventive, marketing plan.
As I communicated with Matt over the next year, he continued to express how happy he was with the way his plan was unfolding.
Matt was more convinced than ever that the questions-before-answers strategy had laid a foundation that allowed him to meet the growth objectives he had projected.