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  • Writer's pictureTara Rethore

Are You Asking The Right Questions?

Clarity, visibility, adaptation and adjustment: these are all important elements of executing strategy. Making your strategy work also requires knowing what questions to ask. Routinely, your staff identify plenty of questions, often targeted to the tasks at hand.

Yet how do leaders know which is the right question?

Leaders are appropriately focused on finding solutions. Yet thorny challenges rarely have a single solution. More often, solutions require a choice between equally important or impactful alternatives. In highly uncertain situations, the choice is even harder – because by definition much less is known. Before jumping to solutions, then, it’s important first to consider the question.

Is the question adding clarity that makes the decision easier?

Take the return to the office issue: Most of the conversations about returning to the office post-pandemic reduced the decision to a binary question: will we be in or out of the office? On its own, this certainly does not add clarity or help people to make decisions about when and how to return to the office. Instead, I advised executives to take a more strategic approach - to ask different questions. (Read more in my related articles here and here.) I challenged them to assess: is the chosen question adding clarity that makes the decision easier?


In the heat of the moment or when heads are down, focused on getting things done, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. In my book, Charting the Course: CEO Tools to Align Strategy and Operations, I suggest questions to consider at various points in your strategic journey. They're intended to stimulate thinking and draw your attention to the implications of your decisions and actions.

  • What are the thorny issues you face today?

  • How are your choices likely to play out across the various parts of your business?

  • What does this tell you about your strategic journey?

  • What aspects of the journey should you revisit, reinvent, or reignite to take you forward?

The right questions are those which make it easier to understand what's helping or hindering your progress in achieving your objectives.


Before taking decisions about critical business challenges, test your questions.

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