Here are 5 starter questions I use with clients when exploring their work-based challenges:

  1. What part of your work feels like the most natural use of your skills, knowledge and capabilities?
  2. What part of your work makes you smile while you’re doing it?
  3. What part of your work feels like real work – i.e. it has to be done, but you have to force yourself to get it done?
  4. What part of your work do you never quite get to, even though suspect it’d be great fun?
  5. What part of your work could you stop doing without anyone noticing?

Of course, as openers, there’s a rich seam available beneath each of these questions – just following up on one alone can provide all the insight you’ll need into where the work-based challenge has its source; and, conversely, where you may find potential solutions.

How would you answer each question? What other questions would you ask to get to the root of things?

And, in the spirit of 2-way transparency, here are my answers

[and please excuse the short-hand]

  1. Seeing patterns within and between data sets, forming and testing hypotheses, using those two things to help people accomplish real change.
  2. Seeing the “Aha!” moment on a client’s face – when the insight transfers, and opens a door for their progress.
  3. Project management, making sure everyone knows what needs to be done by when, and then making sure it happens. Essential.
  4. Public seminars – I love to present insights to large groups, particularly if they’re the result of a study into the audience – e.g. Organization Network Analysis. Essentially, this is #2 at large scale.
  5. This is tough to answer since I stepped out of corporate life to become an independent contractor a little over 5 years ago. Back then, I would have said the endless meetings about meetings about meetings, for sure. Now, pretty much everything I do has a purpose, which suits me just fine.

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