Book Review: The Five Most Important Questions…You will ever ask about your organization
The Five Most Important Questions is based on a book written and published by Peter Drucker in 1993. The objective of Drucker’s original book was to provide non-profit organizations guidance to self-assess their performance. This edition published in 2008 was updated and enhanced by the Leader to Leader Institute in cooperation with six of the world’s leading management experts, Jim Collins, Philip Kotler, James Kouzes, Judith Rodin, V. Kasturi Rangan, and Frances Hesselbein.
Although these five questions appear simple at first glance, having used them in our client engagements, we have experienced firsthand how they can cause a great deal of conversation and how they have helped leadership teams assess their business, and develop alternative strategies to improve performance over the long-term.
#1 What is our mission? What is the organization’s reason for being—its purpose? This question defines how you want your organization to compete. A clearly articulated mission will inspire your employees.
#2 Who is our customer? #3 What does the customer value? Questions two and three are designed as a self-assessment test. How do our customers perceive us and why should they love us? These questions will clarify and validate your value proposition.
#4 What are our results? To assess whether progress is being made toward the achievement of your long-term objectives, you need to measure what matters. As Peter Drucker stated, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” You can’t know whether you are successful unless success is defined and tracked.
#5 What is our plan? The plan is a concise document of the organization’s future strategic direction. Drucker explains, “Planning is not an event. It is the continuing process of strengthening what works and abandoning what does not, of making risk-taking decisions with the greatest knowledge of their possible effects, of setting objectives, appraising performance and results through systematic feedback, and making adjustments as conditions change.” Drucker was ahead of his time in explaining the dynamic, continuous and collaborative landscape of the strategy management process.
We encourage you to use these five questions at your next leadership team meeting to inspire and challenge strategic thinking. We are convinced these questions will cause great discussions and help hone your business objectives. And, please share your experience with us.