What are the Five Most Important Questions?

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What are the Five Most Important Questions?

What are the Five Most Important Questions?

Last week, I received a copy of a wonderful book called The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask about Your Organization by Peter Drucker. It was underlined and highlighted by someone with great care. The yellow and blue cover well-worn and, to be honest, I was surprised someone would send it to me. It looked like the person who had owned it treasured it but felt that I might be able to reach a wider audience with its message than he could. So I hope to honor his wishes with a different approach to sharing this week.

It reminded me about a different time in my career, a time when I was working in Washington D.C. after 9/11. It was a challenging time both for our people and our country. We were still trying to determine what 9/11 meant and how we should proceed. For many serving leaders, it was a challenging time because something had shifted and we weren’t certain what it meant to our present and what it meant to our children’s future.

I thought it might be interesting share what the reader had highlighted in this incredible book.  The book was originally written by Peter Drucker and the newest version is supported by many great leaders in the field of leadership and management development.  They include Jim Collins, Philip Kotler, James Kouzes, Judith Rodin, V. Kasturi Rangan, and Francis Hesselbein.

I thought I’d share with you what the person who sent the book shared with me.  Those things he highlighted are shown in italics below.

The first thing that was highlighted are Peter’s Five Questions. These questions are:

  • What is our mission?
  • Who is our customer?
  • What does the customer value?
  • What are our results?
  • What is our plan?

These five questions can help a leader focus on what’s really important to their organization. They bring rare clarity to our complicated world.

A fundamental responsibility of leadership is to make sure that everybody knows the mission, understands it, lives it.

The mission says why you do what you do, not the means by which you do it.

To have an effective mission, you must have to work out an exacting match of your opportunities, competence, and commitment.

With the limited resources you have –and I don’t just mean people and money but also competence-where can you dig in and make a difference? Where can you set a new standard of performance?

We then go to question two, “Who is our customer?”

So the first job is to define our target customer.

Then the highlighting stops. It’s as if the reader decided there is nothing more to do.  It got me thinking, what if we just focus on these questions. The book has over 100 more pages, with no writing or highlighting of any kind. What if all you did is work on these questions every day? What kind of organization could you build? What kind of leader would you be?

The rest of the book provides tools to help the leader with these questions, including an assessment to help you track your progress.  As we move into fourth quarter, take time to ask these five questions and I know you will be surprised by your results. The five questions again are:

  • What is our mission?
  • Who is our customer?
  • What does the customer value?
  • What are our results?
  • What is our plan?

These simple questions can provide you and your organization a simple framework around which to build your organization.  I hope they provide you the same clarity and insights that they have provided for me, my clients, and my nonprofit partners. See you here next week.

About the Author

Tripp Braden partners with entrepreneurs and senior executives on their high engagement C-Suite communication and content marketing strategies.

He believes client education is the best way of building trust and long term sustainable growth.

His consulting practice focuses on second stage entrepreneurs, technology organizations, and senior level business executives. Tripp partners with clients to develop high impact C-Suite communication and account based marketing strategies.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Tripp at tbraden@marketleadership.net or send him an invite on LinkedIn. You can find Tripp’s business growth blog at Market Leadership Journal.

Tripp Braden – who has written posts on Empowering Serving Leaders.


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