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10 Questions to Help You Think Critically

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A version of this post was initially published on LinkedIn.

It’s hard to keep up with emails and work to-do lists, much less to find the time to take a step back and think critically. Yet asking some important questions at the start of any project can help keep you focused on what’s important and avoid wasted time down the road. Communicators who think critically ensure their programs are tied to clear business objectives and outcomes, and that they’re strategically serving their organization.

Here are 10 critical questions to pose to yourself, your project team or your senior leadership:

  1. What does success look like?
  2. Have we considered all audiences this initiative/program/issue might touch or affect?
  3. Do we need to sequence audience engagement to reach our desired outcomes?
  4. Who else might be working on this same thing? Who else needs to know about this?
  5. Who else in our organization shares this view? A counter view? What about in our industry more broadly? What do we expect our competitors would do in this situation?
  6. What barriers to success can we anticipate?
  7. What are the important milestone dates or deadlines? What else is happening during this same time?
  8. What’s the headline we most dread reading, or email we most dread sending to our boss?
  9. What happens if we don’t act?
  10. What question have I forgotten to ask?

It’s my experience that employees sometimes fear asking questions like these – either because they don’t want to admit they don’t know the answers, or because they don’t want to appear contrary. But – just like a good journalist – not taking no for an answer and not resting until you have satisfactory answers is key to being viewed as a solid business partner.

I welcome your thoughts on my top ten questions and would love to hear about any you’d add to the list.

Christopher Hannegan is executive vice president and U.S. practice chair of Employee Engagement.

Image by Sebastien Wiertz.
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