Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Six Million Dollar Question

One of my favorite teachers from college was my soil science teacher: Dr. Martini. Although he was my best friend's father and quite entertaining, I think the main reason I grew to like his classes so much was the related to "Six Million Dollar Questions." Dr. Martini would teach in a very engaging style and at points in the lecture.. he would state "This is the six million dollar question.. if you don't know this question, don't even bother to come to class for the test!" Even more astonishing, was the fact that years later, I found that my grasp of soil science is still strong and those six million questions (or answers) made all the difference in my vegetable garden. It wasn't knowing the material that was so crucial to success.. it was knowing the right part of the material.. So, how does this relate to todays leadership challenges...

Today, most of are faced with challenges where there are no Dr. Martinis to lay out the six million dollar questions? We are looking at a large text book of material, having to make decisions on what to do and what not to do... and we often don't have clues as to which of these questions are most important.. and which can be ignored. We are overwhelmed with the hundreds of actions that we could take and we know that we have time for only a few... Let's take a simple problem:

If you offer a product, you should be doing some customer evaluation of that product.. and given what I have seen in my experiences.. most of you have somewhere from 10 to 25 questions your asking.. but is there a six million dollar question? Just one question that will serve you well.. allow you to evaluate a product and move on to decision.. the research says yes: The six million question is:

Would you recommend this product to a friend?

Yes.. all the other questions are helpful.. but asking this one question tells you whether this is a product that will continue to be wanted by your customer.

I would suggest that their are other six million dollar question that we learn from our leadership experiences. Do you have any. I have a buddy who use to tell me this one:

Does creating this rule control 1% of your workforce, while penalizing and limiting the other 99% of your workforce?

Of course.. we have those kind of rules, but the answer is hopefully no in most cases. What are the other six million dollar questions you can ask that will help you move through the complexity of today's leadership? Please share your's so that we all can learn from you experiences!

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