People are now faced with thousands of decisions to make every day but they are not necessarily equipped at school to deal effectively with the deluge of choices. Formal education is under so much pressure to impart information in core subjects that less time is spent on giving students the tools they need to analyse and act upon the data they are presented with.
A primary driver behind cultural change has been the World Wide Web. The information available via the Internet has multiplied available choices and increased exposure to new ideas, but this has a downside. As Mitchell Kapor noted,
“Getting information off the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.”
In these circumstances, if a process is not used to analyse a decision, then it is easy for someone to become overloaded with data, or for them to miss out on important factors when making a selection.
All this has a direct affect upon business. The CEB, a member based advisory company based in the US, recently did research (http://#_ftn1) showing that few employees display the most important core competencies that employers need and the majority of people do not have the skills that would enable them to stand out and succeed in today’s workplace.
The business environment is uncertain and fast moving and - as the CEB identified - high performers not only need to show that they have technological savvy; it is also vital that they can prioritize, work well in teams, have organizational awareness and display effective problem solving skills. Such workers need to be self-aware, proactive, make effective decisions, as well as demonstrate learning agility and the power to influence.
A unifying factor to these competencies is the ability to ask the right questions; as Francis Bacon observed,
“A prudent question is one half of wisdom.”
Philosophers certainly believed this, and the ‘thought leaders’ of history, such as Hermagoras of Temnos, identified the most essential questions over two thousand years ago, but this first principles approach to framing problems has been somewhat lost in formal education today; partly due to level of detail that is pursued in an increasingly complex world.
People need tools that are easy to remember and use in order to deal with complex and evolving situations. The core questions needed to analyse a situation are actually embedded in the English language. The seven basic interrogative questions of what, where, why, when, who, how and which can be the triggers needed to unlock any problem; it is just a matter of understanding their application.
This knowledge has led to the development of The Right Questions (http://www.therightquestions.org), a methodology that examines the seven core interrogatives and explores how they can be applied to develop strategy and implement planning. The Right Questions is a creative process, employed in learning, strategy facilitation, coaching, and project planning. The approach has been described as “Deeply motivational”
Simon Ash, the author and founder of The Right Questions, draws on his experience as a bomb disposal officer, management consultant and performance coach to explore each interrogative in turn, with examples and illustrations, along with detail on how the questions are to be applied, and exercises to help put the theory immediately into practice. Practical in approach, the book outlines the tools needed to develop strategy and make actionable plans, while remaining light hearted in tone.
The book is already attracting attention and praise from employers and employees alike:
“I would like to give copies to all the people I manage!”
“Gives the reader the feeling ‘I can do this!’”
“Thoroughly enjoyable and easy to relate to”
To find out more go to The Right Questions website http://www.therightquestions.org
 (http://#_ftnref1) Published in the CEB’s Executive Guidance 2013, available via the CEB website http://www.executiveboard.com