Are You Asking the Right Questions?

BY Celisa Steele

Are you asking the right questions?One of the things we emphasized in our March 26 “Developing a Compelling Strategy for Your Education Business” Webinar was the importance of asking questions when setting strategy—but they have to be the right questions.

The day before the Webinar, on March 25, the Supreme Court issued a ruling pointing to the importance of the right questions.

The Supreme Court ordered a lower court to reconsider whether a redistricting plan created by Alabama’s legislature assigned minority voters to certain districts with the goal of limiting their influence.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, in the majority opinion, wrote of the lower court’s decison, “Asking the wrong question may well have led to the wrong answer.”

Breyer’s assertion holds true outside the courtroom too.

The Right Questions in the Right Order

It can be all too easy to skip fundamental, or alpha, questions, like this one:

  • What if our organization leads the market (meaning we’re product-driven), and what if the market leads us (meaning we’re market-driven)?

And jump instead to secondary, derivative questions:

  • Should we offer an education product on this topic?
  • To whom should we market it?
  • What should we charge for it?

Jumping to secondary questions means at best you’re tackling things out of order and at worst you’re not even asking the right questions, as your answer to alpha questions determines which follow-on questions you need to ask and answer.

It’s Not Easy, But It’s Necessary

It’s not always easy to know what the right questions to ask are—the recent Supreme Court ruling was a 5-to-4 decision—but it’s crucial if you’re to have a shot at developing a sound strategy.

When you sit down to discuss strategy at your organization, make sure one of the questions you’re asking is, “Are we asking the right questions?”

Otherwise, you may find your strategy is continually kicked back by the higher courts of the market for reconsideration.



Our Leading Learning Webinar series contains in May. Check it out at

  1. I enjoyed this post as it echoes the importance of taking a step back to understand a fuller picture of the landscape before diving into tactical decisions. We run across this often when organizations want to quickly jump to the latest technology or trend without first understanding how this supports a defined need or goal. Sure it takes more time to have those conversations, but the time on the front-end will save you from rework at the end of the project due to insufficient planning. Thanks for posting this!

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