Monday, March 02, 2020

Playing Dumb

brown wooden cabinet with mirror

One of necessities (and advantages) of being a management consultant is the ability to ask "dumb" questions. Some of my favorites:

  1. "When you use that term, exactly what does that mean?"
  2. "You mentioned that an investigation is needed. Have there been any other investigations?" If so, what did they find?"
  3. "If that essential approach is not taken, what would happen?"
  4. "If one of your best employees did the same thing, what would you do?"
  5. "Is there anything that you have not mentioned that could pose possible problems?"
  6. "Is there any sizable amount of money that is available but not cited in this financial report?"
  7. "Are there any policies that have been adopted but not circulated?"
  8. "What are the assumptions?"
  9. "What is the standard for excellent performance?"
  10. "What is the turn-over rate?"
  11. "May I see the employee satisfaction surveys?"
  12. "What is a logical reason why a person or team might adopt that unusual approach?"
  13. "Once that goal is achieved, what will be the new challenges?"
  14. "If that action is taken, what might be the unintended consequences?"
  15. "May I see the documentation?"
  16. "You cited a study. How was that study conducted and what were its findings?"
  17. "Have you seen similar conduct by any other offices or employees?"
  18. "Does upper management have any goals which, although important, have not been widely announced?"
  19. "Which actions taken over the past six months have moved the organization forward?"
  20. "In a broad sense, how does this place operate?"
  21. "What is your biggest worry?"

[Photo by Gaelle Marcel at Unsplash]


Steve said...

No. 7 reminds me of a conversation I had early in my career.
HR: "You can't do that, it's against our policy."
Me: "May I see the policy?"
HR: "It's an undocumented policy."

Michael Wade said...


Love it. That's an interesting term: "undocumented policy."

I once worked with a group that had a bunch of undistributed policies, some of which conflicted with the bylaws, and they were on a board member's computer.