by Scott Belsky
In subzero waters, icebreaker ships rely on a specially designed steel hull to plow forward. In climate-controlled offices, we can rely on a different weapon: The persistent question.
Try breaking up the ice with questions like:
- “Why does it feel like we are having the same meeting and discussion, over and over again?”
- “Why don’t we just try it and see what happens?”
- “Specifically what (or who) is getting in the way of us making a decision?”
- “When exactly will we have a final answer on this?”
You don’t have to be the boss to ask these questions. On the contrary, they are best asked by the people tasked with operations and execution. I heard from a friend that, during a lunch with Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express, Chenault was asked the secret to a fast career progression at the company. “I make my bosses make decisions,” he said. “You can’t just sit around and let people think about stuff, you must make them make decisions.”
For the sake of empowering organizations to make great ideas happen, I make this plea:
- Be the person who asks the annoying questions.
- Don’t try to get everyone to agree. Instead, put people on the spot to share their objections.
- When there is ambiguity about the next step, call it out!
What Do You Think?