Today, we are facing so many disruptions. One big crisis looms after another, so Chief Reinvention Officer is here to make us build those reinvention muscles, so we can find our way out of any business disaster.
Today’s subject of conversation came from many experiences I had, and only last week I had this experience again, so I thought I need to stop and make a video about this. So, what am I talking about? We, in Reinvention Agency, deal with very different types of projects. We are helping with product innovation, business model reinvention. We are helping with the process reinvention. It’s all over the map. Very often, we are also asked by clients to work with other consultants or internal experts, project-leaders, change makers of a different kind.
We work with all big Four, which would be Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, McKinsey and Boston Consulting group. We work with niche-consulting companies. We work with many other internal teams, legal teams, or compliance team, engineering team. Again and again, I come to a first meeting for the project. I come to help, to facilitate, or to participate, and in the very first time people coming together to deal with reinvention, to deal with the crisis, and I see this thing repeating again and again.
When a consultant, an expert, a project leader, comes into a situation, called to help a particular crisis, most of us feel like it’s our job to come in and give advice. So what happens in those meetings? One of those experts or consultants starts the conversation and almost immediately starts giving their opinion. I think you should do that. I think the best course of action is this. A research in this area shows this.
The answers seem to be the greatest contribution a consultant or project leaders can make. And that’s understandable. We pride ourselves on our brains and our ideas. We are asked to be an expert and we think that what it means to be an expert is to start as fast as possible, as soon as possible, with giving our expertise.
The reality on the ground, however, for people sitting in the room, for people from the affected situation, this may feel bit difficult and very different. Very often I hear the behind-the-door conversation about this consultant coming here and telling us things we already know but being paid ten times than we are paid. We already tried that, we already did that. Who do they think they are? Why they are coming here on their big horses, swing their swords, and that is the number one mistake I see.
Consultants, project-leaders, change-makers, jump in with answers too early in the process. What’s the alternative? The alternative is right on the table. Start with questions. Before you offer your expert advise, before you start putting a solution on the table, or brainstorm a solution, start with questions. I am sure there are many questions to ask around. What is going on? Who is involved? How the conditions changed for this situation to emerge? How are we thinking about this? What are we thinking about that? What are the drivers for this situation?
There are tons of questions, there are also really good books that can help you deal with that. For example, Edgar Schein’s book Humble Inquiry. Couple of new books, More Beautiful Questions or Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. All these books are a great place that can help you build in your inquiry muscle, not just advocacy muscle.
And we know from research, that when we compare inquiry and advocacy, the team that performs best are the ones who have more inquiry, more questions in their discussions. So, #1 mistake a consultant make: they rush in with the answer before they really stopped and make the real effort to ask a meaningful question. And just to tell you, questions are the type of things that start with what, how, why, when, open-ended type of questions. If you are asking a question, Do you agree with me? that’s not really a question.
So, make sure when you are starting a project, before you jump in with your suggestion, with your proposals, with your answers to the situation your company is facing, start with a lot of good questions. You will be surprised how much you can get from that. Not only in terms of trust and respect, and good team-membership, team-work of your team, but you can also get insides you are not even imagining.
No #1 mistake: start with answers, No #1 Solution: start with questions.
What would be some of your solutions and comments, put them under this video: