Answering One Question Will Increase Your Productivity

I was out playing soccer tournament on Saturday. Since I play in the back, I get to watch a lot of the plays develop and see some of the chances that could-have-been. It got me thinking about how we decide to make (or not make) a productive effort - If I do "this", will there be a positive outcome? The positive outcome doesn't even have to relate directly to me.

For example, if we have possession of the ball and I make a run up the left side, a few things could happen:

  • I could receive the ball from a pass
  • I could leave a space open for an opponent to counter into
  • I could create space for a teammate to receive the ball
  • Nothing could happen

Thinking about it in baseball terms, getting an "out" is normally seen as bad. But if it's a productive out - if you are able to move the runner from second to third base with less than two outs - then it's a productive out.

And thinking about it in terms of business, each day we're presented with a number of decisions. Many of these we probably just go through the motions and move ahead, not paying them much attention. But what if we did?

Using a single question, we can better understand how much effort to put into a task at a set moment in time. That question?

What if?

Asking, then answering, this question before each recognizable decision point allows us to make more thorough and productive responses.