Just Two Questions

Just Two Questions

Socratic Questions

A Socratic Question is a question intended to challenge accuracy and completeness of thinking in a way that acts to move people towards their ultimate goal.

In a recent post I mentioned two simple questions – questions which are all a business needs to make sure it’s doing-the-right-things (as opposed to the much less useful doing-things-right):

Q1: “What is the purpose of this work, from the paying customers’ (end-users’) point of view?

All work which helps serve the purpose of the customer is value-adding work. All work which fails to serve the purpose of the customer (more exactly, all the stakeholders) is wasted work.

Q2: “What measures will we, the workers, choose and use to understand and improve our work?”

Measures which reveal progress on making the work work better are the only measures worth having. And the only measures that can feed purposeful conversations about e.g. further improvements.

Forget OKRs, KPIs and all that tosh. Only measures set by the team or workers themselves will not be automatically gamed. And will be amenable to timely revision to keep them relevant as the work changes.

Although not a given, these kinds of measures lead naturally to a “go to the gemba” approach – getting knowledge of what’s really happening by studying the way the work works.

Towards Productive Dialogue

These two questions are sufficient to forge the necessary “crucible” for productive dialogue – as explained by William Isaacs in his book “Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together“.

– Bob

Further Reading

I Want You to Cheat” ~ John Seddon

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