After 29 years, Jeopardy is still the number 2 game show on television and enjoys 25 million visitors each week. What is the secret to their success? I am sure there are many reasons but one that I believe to be a factor is that the host provides an answer and the contestants must give the correct question. My belief is that it is more difficult to ask the proper questions than it is to respond with the correct answers. This applies to business and for this reason, I have collected useful questions to ask when analyzing a company.
- 1. What is the purpose of your organization? This is sometimes called the Mission Statement or the reason for your business to exist.
- 2. What is the key message or phrase that describes your organization? What business are you really in?
- 3. Where do you want your organization to be in five years? Dream of what you want your operation to look like if you could eliminate all barriers. This is your Vision statement.
- 4. What will conditions be like in your organization when you reach your answer to question #3? This is a list of the ideal conditions of your organization when you reach your dream.
- 5. What do you do best? Understand your own strengths and how that can be best utilized to reach your dream.
- 6. What part of your organization would your competitors most like to emulate? By truly knowing what your competitors value, you can better make the most of that resource.
- 7. What parts of your operation do you most fear to lose? Protect your flanks at all times.
- 8. Where are you weak in the eyes of your customers? By understanding their view, you can better react to meet their needs.
- 9. Where are you vulnerable in the eyes of your competitors? Good competitors help us succeed by exposing opportunities for us to improve.
10. What are the 3-4 things that your company must do well to succeed today and in the future? Focus on the “vital few” areas to improve.
11. How do you measure “those things’? How do you know that you are improving?
12. What would be the ideal number? What do those measurements need to be to reach your dream?
13. Where are you now? Ouch! You may have exposed some areas to address.
14. What is stopping you from reaching the ideal number? Why can’t you fulfill your dreams? What are the barriers that must be overcome?
This is a simple little checklist that helps to take inventory of where we are, where we want to go, and what we have to do to get there. These questions are the hard part, now all you have to do is come up with the proper answers to move your organization toward your dream of the future.