Three simple consulting questions that can transform your nonprofit
- What’s working?
- What isn’t?
- What are your recommendations for change?
I’ll be forever grateful to my graduate program in organization and management at Antioch University New England for revealing these three simple questions. I don’t remember whether it was faculty member Peter Smith or Marsha Greenberg who shared these organization development gems with us, but thank you to both of you. The questions have remained with me and they are at the core of my own work today.
What I like about these questions is that you don’t have to hold a master’s degree in organization development or anything else to use them within your organization to help solve problems, improve programming, or make operations more effective.
Of course, the answers will be different depending on whom you ask. Each person has a different experience of an issue and a different level of knowledge and expertise. That’s why we consultants gather and synthesize input from many perspectives as it helps us get a well-rounded view of your situation.
In asking, it is critical to be a neutral listener, someone who is willing to put aside their own assumptions and really listen to what is being said. After you’ve synthesized what you think you’ve heard, share your analysis with the people you’ve spoken to and ask them if you understood the situation correctly. You want to reach agreement on your understanding of what is working and what isn’t.
Hopefully you will have many recommendations for improvement. Do some additional study before you jump into making changes, however. You’ll want to explore more fully which recommendations might work best for you. And you’d also be wise to seek out possible solutions that no one raised simply because they didn’t have the knowledge of other approaches.
What questions do you use in your organization to help you solve problems or challenges that you are facing? I’d love to hear from you.