Before You Try To Solve A Complex Challenge, Stop And Formulate The Right Question

October 15, 2019

By Adam Chapman, EyeForPharma on Mar 21, 2019

When faced with a complex challenge, leaders are eager to jump right in and start searching for solutions. But before you can find clarity on the solution, you have to start with clarity on the question to ask.

Why start with a question? With a complex challenge, while you could think of a straightforward label (like “Double the business,” “Outpace the market,” or “Take the brand to the next level”), the process of developing a question drives deeper thinking about the challenge itself, which results in a better expression of the challenge.

What constitutes a really good question? A question that is clear and as concise as possible, while being detailed and open enough so that it:

  • Engages all the right people and catalyzes great conversations
  • Gives boundaries to the challenge without biasing or unnecessarily constraining the answers
  • Calls for action, names who will act, and conveys a sense of urgency for action and results
  • Sets an aspirational stretch goal that is within reach, but only if things change

Getting the question right gives you and other leaders a handle on the challenge, it gives your people clarity on what the organization needs to solve for and it gives you the essential starting point.


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