Key questions that impact how I think and what I pursue in the false dichotomy of work-life (when, in reality, all is connected).
- What does success look like? When I offer this up to an individual or a group, the responses are quite telling. People define "success" in different ways, so the open-ended nature of the question provides opportunity for self-reflection as well as personalized responses. Often it is worth probing further after the initial answer as a way to drill down to what really matters to the respondent(s). This question is along the lines of the classic "start with the end in mind."
- How motivated are you to...? I ask this question instead of the binary (yes/no) "Do you want to...?" I pose this especially of my children if I sense some hesitancy or the possibility of an internal debate brewing in their heart about whether to stick with an original plan or adjust course to a new activity.
- For what are you hungry? Framing a conversation around hunger, passion, desire, need, filling the emptiness...provides opportunity for honest reflection on what really matters to people. If people recognize an internal vacuum, how they are attempting to fill it, and honest evaluation of how appropriate that filling element is to the hole, so much can be illuminated about core personal needs. These needs impact the individual, naturally, as well as how the individual functions in networks of relationships and activities. In a literal sense, of course, many people in the world are hungry for calories and food. People require sustenance for basic survival, while others, with fundamental needs met, have increased opportunity in leisure time to ponder existential "hunger" questions.
- How will the current activities, debates, choices, decisions, meetings, reports, tweets, etc. be remembered or have significance in one or five years from now? The relative longevity compared to temporary or ephemeral nature of various channels of communication (e.g., substantive book vs. short tweet) is a way to allocate limited resources as well as determine embarking on production or even some activity. What is the desired state of affairs as a result of working with others? Whether a work team, a volunteer opportunity, or even a family outing, this question teases out a change over time in attitudes, environments, cultural affordances, opportunities, legal frameworks, and perceptions of reality. Compared to the current state of affairs, a desired state of affairs may seem grandiose and impossible, or, simply, a small increment in a healthy direction.
- How will we know we have achieved our intended outcomes? Markers, data points, observations, and other indicators support claims of success (causal effect or impact is another matter). Identifying these indicators early on in the process provides opportunity to thoughtfully determine ideal indicators and begin to collect the informational evidence in the course of the work.