To get innovative decisions, ask good questions

questionOne of the challenges of innovative leadership is to ensure that new ideas and viewpoints are considered when making the wide range of decisions that we face on a regular basis.

In a recent blog on strategic planning, Harvard Business School authors Logan Chandler and Ron Ashkenas gave several pieces of advice about innovative decision making.  They said that while the process should generate “intense debates,” what it more often generates is a set of dense documents, crowded with data and text, that end up on the shelf.

How can we avoid this fate for our decision making processes? I found this advice be the most interesting: to ask provocative questions – the kind that lead to authentic discussion. Here are some of the questions they suggest:

  • What are the top 2 or 3 things that must go right for this strategy to work?
  • If we pursue this strategy, what are we deciding not to do?
  • What specific capabilities will we need to develop in order for this plan to succeed?

Similar to strategic planning, much of leadership decision-making is about asking hard questions and listening carefully for the answers. What strategies do you use to create questions that drive innovative decisions?

–Dee Anne Bonebright


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