This is a true story about a software computer company falling behind schedule on their five-contract; which would have cost them millions in penalties.
In 1987 Kurt Wright was called in by a multi-national computer company to help turn around a $100 million software engineering project that had completed 38 months of a five-year contract, and had fallen 18 months behind schedule.
In 10 more months, the company faced a critical milestone where they would incur $30 million in penalties if they were still 18 months behind schedule. With 400 software engineers on the project, they had fallen further behind every single month.
Ask the Right Questions.
Upon arriving Kurt, told the project managers that what they needed to do was change the questions they were using to drive the project from, “What’s going wrong here?” to, “What going right here?” For six weeks, that’s just what Kurt did.
“I began a dialogue process meeting with teams of 18-20 engineers at a time,” Kurt said. “Then I started going down the hallways, ducking in and out of offices searching for things that were working and then being a travelling bard, carried the message of that success throughout every corner of the organization.
“After spending six weeks there,” he said, “I used up $90,000 of my budget and told them there was no further need for me to stay there. They’d gotten the message.”
In the 10 remaining months, the engineers did 28 months of work and erased their deficit. They completed the project on time, $15 million under budget, and completely eliminated the feared $30 million in penalties.
Bottom line: the company saved $45 million simply by switching to “What’s right, Questions.”
What Do You Need to Do?
Use questions in a way that will achieve a desired result. Your aim may be to get an oral response; it may be to stimulate a mental response. What you ask, and how you ask, it have a direct bearing on your success in the use of questions.
Why Is It Important?
Questions that are effective help your people to get involved. Answers to well-chosen questions may also provide valuable feedback for you.
BECAUSE questions call for a response—either oral or mental—they help to get your people involved.
Questions can help you to start conversations and to enjoy a stimulating exchange of thoughts. As an entrepreneur and a teacher, you may use questions to arouse interest, to help someone reason on a matter, or to add emphasis to what you say. When you make good use of questions, you encourage your prospects to get involved actively, instead of listening passively. Have an objective in mind, and ask your questions in a manner that will help to achieve it.
As stated above with the software computer company, you can learn to make effective use of questions ending in good results. However, remember to be respectful, especially when speaking to older ones, people you do not know personally, and those in positions of authority.