Task Management Questions

  • What if I don’t do this now?
  • What if I don’t do this at all?
  • Is this my project or priority or is it someone else’s?
  • Is this activity critical to get me from where I am to where I want to be?
  • Can anyone accomplish this task other than me?

Winners’ Wisdom
by Jim Stovall
The CEO Refresher

Questioning Success – Important ‘Why’ Questions

  • Why do we continue in this business?
  • Why should anyone buy this product?
  • What will prevent competitors from matching us? What will we do then?
  • Why are we making so much money? Why won’t it eventually come to an end? What must we do now to prepare for or moderate that change?

by Jonathan Isaacs
Boston Consulting Group

Profit Spiral Questions

  • Why are we here? (Mission)
  • Where are we going? (Vision)
  • How are we getting there? (Strategies)
  • Who’s doing what? (Structure)
  • Under what conditions are we doing all of this? (Culture)

The Profit SpiralTM
by Katherine Catlin
CEO Exchange

Problem-Solving Questions

  • What options do you see for addressing this issue?
  • What are the pros and cons of your preferred option?
  • How will that solution meet your (or the business’s) needs?
  • What steps do we need to take to implement your solution?
  • Who else needs to be involved?
  • What obstacles do you foresee and how can we get around them?
  • How are we going to measure success?

Do You[ Read more ]

Opportunity Assessment

Executives should step back and apply their strategic judgment and operating knowledge to assess opportunities along five key dimensions:

  1. How much does this opportunity strengthen our core business franchise?
  2. What are the chances of our becoming a leader in the new segment or business?
  3. Could this move have a defensive benefit, pre-empting our present or future competitors?
  4. Does this investment position our core business strategically

[ Read more ]

Nature of Goals

  • Are our goals outcome-based or activity-based? (Outcome-based goals describe the results or impacts that directly answer the question “How would you know you succeeded at X?” By contrast, activity-based goals only restate the activities people plan to do.)
  • If our goals are activity-based, is the connection to the underlying outcome-based goal(s) well understood and communicated?

Better than Plan: Managing Beyond the[ Read more ]

Middle Manager Questions

Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you are getting the full value from your middle managers:

  • Do my managers have a clear vision of how our business works as a whole, not just in their functions? Have they ever met a customer? Do they know the business from the outside in?
  • Do they understand that their role is not only to communicate the

[ Read more ]

Mercer’s Questions for Managers

  • How do our customers measure and define value?
  • How do we measure and define value?
  • What are the key drivers of the economics of our business?
  • What is the relative impact of each of these drivers on the value of the business?
  • Is the current level of value driver performance enough to satisfy our investors?
  • Is our model of the business––our understanding of what drives value––still valid or has

[ Read more ]

Measuring an Organization’s Effectiveness

You can diagnose your organization’s effectiveness and assess its path toward high performance by gathering answers–typically through a survey–to 10 key questions:

  1. Is our organization clear about the top three priorities for making our business more valuable?
  2. Is our leadership team cohesive and aligned?
  3. Are individual roles, accountabilities and authority clear for the most important decisions?
  4. Does the organization’s structure reflect the sources of value in the business?
  5. Do

[ Read more ]

Defining/Rethinking Your Business Architecture

  • What is our “elevator pitch”?
  • What are our most differentiated capabilities?
  • What are your most leverageable offerings?
  • What are your most crucial “control points”?
  • What are your most valuable intellectual assets?
  • What are the key assumptions we make about our business?
  • Who are our customers? What customer segments do we serve? Who are our most strategic customers?
  • What do we do for our customers? What needs do we fulfill? What services

[ Read more ]

Crafting the Value Proposition

Internal Analysis

  • In looking at the value chain (internal logistics > operations > external logistics > sales and marketing > service), how does your company create value?
  • What are your company’s core competencies and how do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • What capabilities (internal and external–partners, alliances, joint ventures) can you bring to bear to execute against your value promise?
  • Why should

[ Read more ]

Corporate Growth Questions

  • Does our strategy-development process clearly identify where growth will come from and how it will be funded?
  • Does our performance measurement, evaluation, and reward process really stimulate behavior that will enhance the business portfolio?
  • Are we effectively communicating our commitment to growth to all our stakeholders – our customers, shareholders, and employees – and providing them with adequate information and milestones to measure our progress?
  • Do we

[ Read more ]

Complexity Questions

  • Does our organization have an operational definition of complexity?
  • Do we know how much complexity we have – quantitatively not anecdotally?
  • Do we know how much value and cost the low-volume, nonstandard variations generate? Are they a source of profit or a sinkhole? Are they constraining our ability to be responsive?
  • Do we have checks and balances to keep complexity under control? Are they set

[ Read more ]

Business Design Innovation Questions

As you evaluate new businesses or consider reinventing your current business design, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is our current business model strong and sustainable?
  2. Is our business in tune with shifting customer priorities and the changing environment?
  3. Are we playing by the same set of rules for success as the rest of our industry?
  4. Have the traditional rules suddenly changed in the past year?
  5. How can we play

[ Read more ]

Business Model Questions

  • How do you make money in this business?
  • What are your costs?
  • What value are you creating and for whom?
  • Can you describe what business you are in and how you will get paid in 4 sentences or less?
  • Six months from now, what business will your customers want you to be in?
  • Twelve months from now, what business will your customers demand you be in?
  • Is your

[ Read more ]

Business Design Audit

Current customer selection

  • What is our revenue mix by customer?
  • Where does profit come from?
  • Is the origin of revenue and profit changing?
  • Who are our most profitable customers?
  • Which customers are showing growth?
  • Which customers are integral to our strategy?

Customer service

  • Which types of customers choose us?
  • Why do those customers choose us?
  • Are we making money off that differentiation?
  • Why don’t customers choose us?

Strategic direction

[ Read more ]

After-Action Reviews

The U.S. Army effectively instills the habit of dealing with facts by conducting “after-action reviews.” They take just 15 minutes, and they occur after every identifiable event — big or small. This review involves asking four simple questions:

  • What was supposed to happen?
  • What actually happened?
  • What accounts for any difference?
  • What can we learn?

That’s it. No memo gets filed; no … [ Read more ]

5 Key Questions to Ask Before Divestment

  1. Rather than getting rid of an entire business unit, can you disassemble its operations and outsource the costly or cumbersome functions?
  2. Have we pushed technology as far as we can, or are there still new ways it can cut costs, increase productivity and improve operations?
  3. Do you have all the candidates for disposal on the table, not just the ‘dogs’?
  4. Is it possible that the business you thought

[ Read more ]

Corporate Identity

  • Can you describe your company´s identity in a few words?
  • Does your company´s identity match the key success factors for your business?
  • Do you use your company´s identity as the basis for strategic decisions?
  • Is your company´s identity integrated into its key processes?

Source: Return on Identity / Ulrich Pidun, Daniel Stelter / Boston Consulting Group (BCG), March 30, 2006