If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.
What is the most important step in meaningful dialogue?
It also happens to be the most important step in organizational change. It is the Art of the question. You have to ask the right question to get to the heart of a matter. Yet many of us do not ask the right questions, not for our organizations and not for ourselves.
This past weekend I watched a movie. Those of you that know me personally knows that NEVER happens. I have the attention span of a gnat and I just am never able to focus longer than 30 minutes top– I can work on a project for hours, study and research for days, but watch a Rom-Com, can not do it.
I watched a sports movie- Moneyball. It was recommended to me by a genius friend, Angela Powell and written by one of my favorite writers of all time Aaron Sorkin. For those of you that have not seen it here is the plot summary:
Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane is handicapped with the lowest salary constraint in baseball. If he ever wants to win the World Series, Billy must find a competitive advantage. Billy is about to turn baseball on its ear when he uses statistical data to analyze and place value on the players he picks for the team
At its core this movie is about innovation and turning a traditional long held system on its head.
It speaks to an epic failure within the game to understand what was really happening. And this lead people who ran Major League Baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams.
Does it sound like an industry I know and love? Oh yes it does.
Swap out game for nonprofit sector and major league baseball for nonprofits and you see where I am going.
It speaks to a industry whose thinking was medieval.They had no desire to change but even worst they were asking all the wrong questions. Billy Beane knew that.
They also knew that they had created a system where if you said anything against the status quo to anyone, well you were ostracized-not seen as loyal and in many cases asked to leave.
How many of us have worked in these organizations, where they did not value the question nor the person who was courageous enough to ask them?
But for me the BEST part of the movie was when they used statistical data to analyze what is essential their programs and made decisions based on data. I dream of organizations like this!
They saw things in the data that the naked eye could not see, including value in people that was not evident: it helped them see beyond age, appearance, and personality.
They believed the data, they used the data, they valued the data and the data changed their outcomes and impact.
My lessons from this movie are lessons I talk to organizations about everyday: Learn to ask the right question, believe your data, not your opinions and create a safe place so that everyone can share their ideas.
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