Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers. — Voltaire
Let me start this blog by expressing gratitude to Hildy Gottlieb, Dimitri Petroplolis of the Community Driven Institute and Nancy Iannone, a nonprofit and community development expert who started the monthly Twitter Chat, #npcons. Every month they create a meaningful theme and use it to promote dialogue among nonprofit and community consultants. Who ever would have imagined the power of these hour-long one hour 140 character conversations.
On the last chat, the discussion focused on how people learn to be consultants. People come to this work from so many interesting places. I came to it, having served as a nonprofit CEO in an amazing start up organization, HandsOn Greater Phoenix, which now 15 years after our modest (however, passion-filled) beginnings, now mobilizes 50,000 a year in projects 365 days a year. After 12 years with HOGP, I knew I would be involved in community building for the rest of my life. Others came to this work from the consulting sector, real estate and neighborhood development, and academia. It was exciting to connect with, and learn from, others on these Twitter Chats.
For those of you who we not on the last call, a discussion started about how to develop unique, interesting ways to create a dynamic, connected community of nonprofit/community building consultants. There where many excellent ideas. And, a question that I thought was interesting was “what are the most important questions you ask your clients?” (and use the term “clients” freely, it can be questions you ask Boards you serve on, or teams you will be working with) I was really inspired by the answers and offered to compile a list of the “Questions shared.” Some pretty terrific questions flew into the #npcons feed in 140 characters or less. So here is my attempt at sharing them, please pardon the creative liberty I may have taken in recording them, and please make any changes and additions. I am also adding a couple others that I find powerful, and a few from one of the BEST question askers I know, Miss Hildy Gottlieb.
There is so much power in the questions we ask. One right question asked at the right time can build the strongest relationships with our clients and our teams. Sometimes organizations can get to go to reach their goals and vision, because of the questions they ask and how they frame the questions to lead them to greatest possible future.
Here are some great ideas for “question asking” from some wise consultants. I am also including their Twitter name/address so you can follow them if you are not already — Enjoy!
Also if you have other excellent questions to share, please comment! And feel free to share this post with anyone who you think would be interested in 1) the questions or 2) joining the #npcons Twitter Chat.
“What is your vision for what is possible in the community?”
“What would “amazing” or extraordinary” or “Wow!” look like?”
“What would that make possible?”
“What would the community look like if _______ (fill in the blank)?”
* For more powerful questions, check out Hildy and Dimitri’s website at www.communitydriven.org
“How are you?” (We are both real people)
“How can I help you?” (Address their needs not yours)
“What else is going on?” (What else is going on? Key to relationships and ongoing business)
“What are you trying to accomplish?”
“What have you done so far?”
(Rest of the conversation usually comes from answers to those questions)
“What do you do best?
“How can I help you be better at what you do best?”
“What is your most important need right now?”
“What has worked in the past to support/solve this similar problem/situation?”
“Are we on track?”
“Have your goals/objectives changed in the last six months?”
“What else can we do for you?”
“What is it going to take for this organization to not have to exist anymore?”
“What are your goals?” And “Be specific and please differentiate short-term, long-term, organizational and programmatic?”
“Do you have any money?” (or what resources do you have available do do this project?)
Some of my favorite are @alisonrapping
“If we were successful, what legacy would be built?”
“What are the most important questions I am not considering?”
“Help me understand…”
“What would success look like?”A prudent question is one half of wisdom. — Francis Bacon
OK, I know, I forgot the most important question, from @elainecohen “Where do you keep the Chunky Monkey?” Have to keep everything in perspective!