Strategic leaders focus on four things:
The first two steps to getting off the treadmill correspond to those first two bullet points. Two weeks ago, we looked at becoming more intentional with our time. Last week we looked at problem identification, specifically the importance of involving stakeholders, and generating a list of possible problems from a single issue using the sunburst.
This week we look at stair stepping, the purpose of which is to dig deeper into each sunray by asking/reflecting on the following:
Asking why again helps uncover additional causes. Often what will happen is that asking why repeatedly leads to deeper issues until the root problem is discovered. Asking why also surfaces similarities and patterns between different sun rays. A hilarious example can be found here.
Wondering allows you to take different perspectives. It encourages open thinking and allows you to frame objections in a way that doesn’t shut down other possibilities.
Yes, but… is another good way to push back and offer other alternative without shutting off avenues of thought or shutting down a conversation.
Aha!s let you note important connections and possibilities without jumping to conclusions and ending discussion prematurely. Aha!s are strong candidates for the root problem, but they are still only candidates.
Notice that stair stepping is still about expanding ideas and possibilities, but it also allows for some analysis and prioritizing to begin happening.
Tomorrow through Thursday we will look at three examples. On Friday I will encourage and inspire you to apply this tool.
Do good and be well,
*This is a tweak from April 13, 2020 in which I emphasized developing instead of managing people.