One question that can cut to the core of any problem

19th June 2017

Gavin Preston



“The Board does not like your proposal.”

“The members don’t think the app will be fit for purpose.”

“They will never agree to it.”

“Training never works.”

“They never take my calls.”

Let’s say you are in conversation with a member of your team and you are trying to help them think through the issue and solve the problem.  The challenge you face with these statements is that they are too general and lack the information you need to get to the bottom of the issue.

In fact, they are unfinished statements because if you were to take a literal interpretation of the same statements they could be expressed as:

“No one on the Board likes any single element of your proposal”

“There is not one member that thinks any aspect of the apps functionality will work for them”

“There could never be a circumstance that any member (of the management team) will agree to any part of this suggestion”

“There has never been a training course delivered by any person that has been effective”

“There is no circumstance that anybody working at that company in a decision making capacity would be interested in talking to me?”

When you read these statements, you are naturally sceptical aren’t you? Surely at least one member of the Board likes at least some part of the proposal.  Of course there are going to be circumstances where at least one member of management has agreed to a suggestion before. Of course some training works otherwise we wouldn’t have qualified doctors, pilots or engineers.

To help you cut through to the core of the problem:


Who specifically on the Board did not like what part of the proposal?

Which specific members do not think which specific aspect of the app is not fit for purpose?

Specifically, which training, delivered by which trainer, did not work for which student?

The more precisely you understand the nature of the problem, the easier it is to come up with a solution.

To drill to the core of the issue, remember to ask

“What Specifically, Who Specifically?”



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