Ask The Right Question First

As a consultant, I’m regularly asked by clients and prospective clients a version of the question, “what would you suggest we do?”

And while a satisfying answer to that question might seem sufficient or even helpful at the time, it really is neither in the long-term.  It’s really the wrong question. Instead, the better question to ask is, “why would you suggest we do anything?”

What you should do – the tactic in a particular situation – is secondary (at least) to why you should do anything.  When you ask the question, “why?” you force yourself to focus less on your to-dos and more on your beliefs, less on your tactics and more on your approach.

So, in helping you answer your “why?” question, I would suggest that whatever tactics you employ should align and affirm with the following statements.  Whatever you do should be because:

  • You are mission-centered;
  • You are donor-engaged, and;
  • You are vision-focused.
When you institution’s mission stays central to all that you do and say, when you practice meaningful donor-engagement as second-nature, and when you keep your focus on achieving a compelling vision, your success is certain.  It really doesn’t matter which specific tactics you might choose.
1 Comment

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  1. Once again, Jason, you’ve said today in The Far Edge of Promise what I wish I would have said today in Generous Matters. Thank you for encouraging more why questions, beginning with the three foundational queries you’ve listed here. As you say, unless we get our “why’s” right, all the “what’s” in the world won’t matter.

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