Asking “how might we” questions

A pow­er­ful tool to help your lead­er­ship is to ask great ques­tions. Yes, there is such a thing as a bad ques­tion. In school, teach­ers some­times say there’s no such thing as a bad ques­tion. Good advice for young stu­dents. Bad advice for adults. There are many WRONG ques­tions that we can ask that we don’t need to be ask­ing. There are WRONG ques­tions we can ask about our spouse or about how things are in the world. Here’s anoth­er exam­ple of a bad ques­tion:

Zoom example of a BAD question.jpg
No. You suck. Bad ques­tion.

Change your ques­tion, change your focus. 

HOW MIGHT WE...”  questions

How might we...” ques­tions allows the brain to engage in the high­er-lev­el think­ing of the brain instead of oper­at­ing out of the low­er-lev­el “fear” mind­set.

In your per­son­al life ...

  • How might I find ways to get 7–8 hours of sleep each night?
  • How might I find more ener­gy each day?
  • How might I go deep­er in my rela­tion­ships?
  • How might we find more ways to spend time togeth­er?
  • How might we cre­ate a less stress­ful envi­ron­ment in our home?
  • How might we spend less time on screens?

In your role as a leader... 

  • How might we bet­ter serve our cus­tomers and clients?
  • How might we moti­vate and employ­ees and staff?
  • How might we cre­ate a fan­tas­tic expe­ri­ence for every­one?
  • How might we best com­mu­ni­cate this idea?

Start asking these questions today!

The best thing is you don’t have to buy any­thing or learn any­thing else to start using “how might we” ques­tions. 

A pow­er­ful exten­sion is to make sure your whole group or team is ask­ing the same ques­tion togeth­er. Change the ques­tions, change the focus. 

This post was inspired by Jake Knap­p’s book, Sprint 

Dealing with Resistance

Any­time we do impor­tant work, we WILL face Resis­tance

It is pret­ty much a guar­an­tee. 

Peo­ple won’t like what we’re doing. They may even let us know (to our face). They’ll cheap­en our hard efforts and make us feel bad. And a com­mon ten­den­cy would be to com­pro­mise — to give in and give up. Some of us may even take those com­ments per­son­al­ly.

Some­times Resis­tance is loud. Peo­ple will tell us they don’t like what we’re doing and ask a mil­lion ques­tions about our motives. They may hold some kind of cam­paign and protest. Or they’ll sug­gest that what we’re doing isn’t impor­tant. 

Oth­er times (maybe more often?), Resis­tance is qui­et and pas­sive. Noth­ing spe­cif­ic is said, but there’s a lack of involve­ment or excite­ment that shows us they don’t like what we’re doing. Resis­tance can even take place in our own mind.

SO... what do we do about it?

Before I offer a pow­er­ful tool to keep us on track, here are 4 steps for deal­ing with Resis­tance:

1. Rec­og­nize Resis­tance is inevitable. It will show up. It’s not going to go away. Ever. That means what we are doing is start­ing to work and it’s being noticed. 

2. Embrace your team and com­mu­ni­ty. You have a group of peo­ple right here in this thread who wants to help you suc­ceed. If you’re tak­ing some­thing per­son­al­ly, LET US KNOW. You are not alone! We are here for you! If you face resis­tance, we can be pray­ing for you, and help you lead.

3. Greet Resis­tance when it shows up. The worst thing we can do is ignore the Resis­tance. Begin by say­ing “hel­lo Resis­tance!” when it shows up in what­ev­er form it takes. And in your head, just whis­per to your­self “I think I’m fac­ing Resis­tance right now.” This sim­ple phrase acti­vates the part of your brain that is more delib­er­ate and thought­ful rather than fast and thought­less. 

4. Stay focused on our end game. Specif­i­cal­ly on Sun­day morn­ing’s our end game is that peo­ple would think “I’m com­ing back next week.” We must stay focused on this and remind our­selves and our team mem­bers that every Sun­day is some­one’s first Sun­day and we want to even­tu­al­ly bring them into a grow­ing rela­tion­ship with Christ. 

A pow­er­ful tool for stay­ing on track... 

Clarify the win. 

Anoth­er way to deal with Resis­tance is to clar­i­fy the win. Every­one wants to win. When we are clear on what it looks like to win, peo­ple can bet­ter eval­u­ate what we’re doing. Most peo­ple are already eval­u­at­ing what we are doing based on their own inner-defined win. Some­times this is what there’s Resis­tance — what we’re doing does­n’t match THEIR win.

Your role: Restate the win fre­quent­ly. It may feel like we are a bro­ken record at times, but this just means what we are say­ing is start­ing to spread. We must remind peo­ple why we are so fanat­ic about mak­ing the Sun­day expe­ri­ence “irre­sistible” so we can let God do the work only he can do. 

QUESTION: Have you expe­ri­ence Resis­tance in your role as a leader? 

QUESTION: Are you pre­pared to greet Resis­tance this week and next? (And the week after that?) 

QUESTION: How do you deal with Resis­tance when it shows up?

(Inspired by Steven Press­field­’s The War of Art and Andy Stan­ley’s 7 Prac­tices)

Communicate early and often

I’ve expe­ri­enced it and I’m sure you have too. You’re get­ting close to a dead­line for a project and you’re wait­ing on 12 essen­tial details to com­plete every­thing. 

You’re so close to the dead­line that hav­ing any con­ver­sa­tions or com­mu­ni­ca­tion will KEEP you from com­plet­ing the project

So what do you do? 

You skip them... and get to work. 

Seri­ous­ly though... who has time to com­mu­ni­cate ear­ly and often when you have a dead­line to meet? 

It’s eas­i­er to go silent and com­mu­ni­cate less when there’s a big event or dead­line right around the cor­ner. How­ev­er, one of the strate­gic behav­iors I want all of us to con­sid­er as lead­ers is this:

We communicate EARLY and OFTEN.

Part 1: Com­mu­ni­cat­ing EARLY

This means we talk about stuff while we can still make plen­ty of adjust­ments. When you com­mu­ni­cate late, there’s often no time left to make changes. On Nov 13, I wrote about how we plan in advance so that ‘lack of time’ is nev­er an issue. Around CFC, we don’t want to fall into the “I did­n’t have enough time” trap. That’s not a good excuse! By com­mu­ni­cat­ing ear­ly, we can keep each oth­er in the loop before it is too late.

When you com­mu­ni­cate ear­ly... you can let your team know about stuff while there’s still time to fig­ure out key details and oth­er solu­tions. 

When you com­mu­ni­cate ear­ly... you allow time for prop­er plan­ning. See my post from Nov 13 for more plan­ning tips and tricks: https://public.3.basecamp.com/p/HonuXbbxWwdGMvnDsXg1nJXG

Part 2: Com­mu­ni­cat­ing OFTEN

This just means we’re in the pat­tern of a con­sis­tent con­ver­sa­tion — not a irreg­u­lar mono­logue

So far my per­son­al attempts to achieve this have been:

  • Month­ly vol­un­teer train­ing meet­ings (Sat­ur­days) 
  • Weekly(ish) posts here in Base­camp (like this one)

But I’m sure there’s more I could do and that we could all do... 

Next steps...

  • What, if any­thing, do you have to com­mu­ni­cate that would be bet­ter for your team to know SOONER than lat­er?
  • How often have you com­mu­ni­cat­ed? 
  • What can we do bet­ter to make sure com­mu­ni­ca­tion is hap­pen­ing EARLY and OFTEN?

Not enough time...

I’m sure you’ve expe­ri­enced this before. A project or dead­line is quick­ly approach­ing and you think to your­self, if I only had more time, every­thing would be so much bet­ter.

It might be true. More time might allow you to achieve what you’re try­ing to do.

But pat­terns of feel­ing like there’s not enough time can lead to frus­tra­tion, burn out, and inap­pro­pri­ate ten­sion. Those are all things most of us try to avoid, but some­how always encounter.

Whether it’s a per­son­al project, some­thing for your job, or a task at home, there’s a solu­tion to the “not enough time” prob­lem: bet­ter plan­ning.

We’re all famil­iar with the con­cept of plan­ning, but just like any skill, you can learn how to plan bet­ter

One of the strate­gic prin­ci­ples I often spread is “We plan in advance so that ‘lack of time’ is nev­er an issue.” This means we take the time to agree on the out­come, date, and process when it’s still pos­si­ble to rene­go­ti­ate and make changes. It’s eas­i­er and cheap­er to change the plan ear­ly on. It’s often dif­fi­cult and expen­sive to wait till the last minute (because we’re often forced to buy an easy solu­tion or make sig­nif­i­cant com­pro­mis­es). 

Some steps toward better planning...

1. Define the win. What does suc­cess look like? What’s the cri­te­ria for mak­ing deci­sions? Does every­one on your team agree with this?

2. Mindsweep. What things come to mind right away for this project? What do you not know and need to find out? Who could you talk to? Review the “Project Plan­ning Trig­ger List” PDF attached for ideas before you jump to the next step.

3. Orga­nize. What is the sequence of events? What needs to hap­pen to make the whole thing hap­pen? What check­lists do you need? What are key dates? (Tip: do not start here! Our nat­ur­al ten­den­cy is to begin at step 3 instead of steps 1 and 2.) 

4. Del­e­gate Author­i­ty. Who can you give author­i­ty away to make deci­sions and car­ry out the out­come? Remind them of what the win looks like.

5. Define Next Actions. Who has the next action? If two peo­ple do, no one does. 

6. Track “Wait­ing Fors.” Is there any­thing you’re wait­ing for? Keep a list some­where handy to track peo­ple you are wait­ing on. Do they know you’re wait­ing for them?

Ques­tion to con­sid­er...  Are there any projects you’re work­ing on now where you might need to rene­go­ti­ate the com­mit­ment? 

The Green Stamp

In your orga­ni­za­tion, busi­ness, or life, who has the green stamp?

The green stamp is the spe­cial “mark of approval” required to move for­ward with some­thing impor­tant.

The green ink isn’t so impor­tant. It’s the stamp itself — and who has it.

Usu­al­ly, we skip the step to fig­ure out WHO has the green stamp and WHAT cri­te­ria is being used before its giv­en. So instead of doing the hard work to fig­ure out the WHO and WHAT, we walk around mak­ing deci­sions we thought we were allowed to make . . . only to fig­ure out we real­ly didn’t have the green stamp.

Some boss­es like to keep the green stamp locked up and out of sight because it gives them­selves a feel­ing of author­i­ty and con­trol. Great lead­ers give the green stamp away. They let oth­ers get things done based on cri­te­ria that makes sense for the project.

Your job — no mat­ter where you are in your orga­ni­za­tion — is 1) to fig­ure out who has the green stamp, 2) define the cri­te­ria, and 3) fig­ure out how you can give the green stamp away.

If our per­son­al pref­er­ences dri­ve every­thing we do, mas­sive growth can’t hap­pen.

Some write, others talk

It can be easy to think that oth­er peo­ple in your life learn and process things the same way you do.

For some, writ­ing is a great way to fig­ure things out. It’s a process that allows a per­son to get their thoughts on a page, see if they agree with them, and make changes until it reflects what they actu­al­ly think.

For oth­ers, writ­ing is an awful way to fig­ure things out. They’re not real­ly sure what they think until they can have a few con­ver­sa­tions and debates until they under­stand what they think.

It does­n’t mat­ter how you fig­ure things out. It’s impor­tant you know which one best serves you. It will bet­ter serve oth­ers.