Ask anyone who knows me, and you’ll hear that I am a very analytical person who asks a lot of questions. I have always believed in the value of questions. It is the only way you can have your thoughts and plans challenged. You should be able to defend your position, and if you can’t, then it is worth exploring how to improve it.
There are many tried and true devices out there for ensuring you are on the right path – SWAT analysis, pro/con lists, plus/minuses, focus groups, etc. All of these have their own place in assessing the direction of a project, campaign or decision.
Regardless of the tool your organization uses, I wanted to offer several universal questions that can be used at any time of a project. Sometimes, it is good to push pause and get a temperature check. A few questions that I use with my work team include:
- Are we on track with our goals? Sometimes, in the middle of a project, variables can change and the expected results of an operation may change as a result of unforeseen events. It is good to answer this question throughout because if it is recognized that you are, indeed, off track, then you still have time to realign and reach your goals.
- What about this project has you most worried? This question allows you to pinpoint specifically what area you feel needs to have the most attention. If it is recognized immediately, you can be aware of this area and give it the special attention it may need. Verbalizing that area of concern in a group setting also generates a team awareness about it that can be communicated as a team.
- Is there anyone else who needs to be aware of what we are doing? Internally and externally, are all those people who will have a vested interest in what you are doing aware? Or will they be caught off-guard.
- Are we on track with our budget? Again, this is another one to ask periodically and not wait until it is too late. If you are able to see what financial challenges you may have, you can address them proactively.
- Do we still feel good about this? Sometimes, it helps to have an honest assessment. If there are any concerns, speak now or forever hold your peace.
- Is there anything we aren’t thinking about? Similar to the above, but this isn’t about doubt; this is about making sure you have covered all the ground that needs to be covered.
- Is our expectation the same as when we first started? This is similar to what variables have changed, but it speaks more to the execution of the actual plan.
- What measurements are we using to determine if this is a success? This question should absolutely be answered at the beginning of a project. However, it wouldn’t hurt to continue raising this question up to make sure you aren’t missing anything.
This is not an exhaustive list. If you have your own, please feel free to share in the comments. But, the great thing about this variety is that it does address strengths, weaknesses, goals, challenges and expectations. These are all essential in any execution.