Pragmatic Inquiry is a discipline, and, as with all disciplines it requires hard work and learning to achieve the real benefits of its principles. There are a variety of ways to get started on using these methods for solving your issues. Here are the most common.
Kinds of Inquiry Questions
Every inquiry begins with a question, idea, problem, need issue, doubt, opportunity or challenge—your Challenge/question [Cq] — and a tentative answer that will drive the Inquiry. Here are questions that have begun Inquiries in the past.
Organization Values and Vision Inquiry
This is for senior executives or members of a senior management team who need to inquire about their Organization’s Values and Vision.
• What are the Values of the Organization? Why are they important?
• How have they been formed and tested? What is the evidence?
• What is the Core Purpose and Goal of the Organization — what is our reason for existence? What business are we in?
• What is our culture? What do we need to affirm or change?
• What are our Social and Environmental Responsibilities?
• What is our view of the future?
• How will we shape/intercept it?
Result: Own Who You Are — Organization Brand.
Strategic Market Planning & Problem Solving Inquiry
This is for senior executives or members of a group who face a particular challenge or issue concerning their relationship with the marketplace and within the organization:
• Who are our customers?
• What needs in society do or can we meet?
• What are our core competencies? Are they relevant & differentiating?
• Is our strategy sustainable?
• What is our brand reputation to our stakeholders?
• What direction should we pursue?
• What action should we take?
• What investments should we make?
• How do we innovate and renew?
Result: Own Your Business Idea and Direction — Strategy.
This is for students beginning their careers, executives contemplating a career change and senior executives reflecting on their legacy. Individuals inquire about the essence of their leadership beliefs in order to determine where they should make the investment of their careers relative to a company, industry or profession.
• What Values and Visions are driving my behavior, decisions and actions?
• Whom do I want to serve — what Market, Population, Community or Audience?
• What needs do they have which I can meet?
• What are my ideas to meet these needs?
• Why am I pursuing a business career? (What am I passionate about?)
• What challenges do I face?
• What are my competencies?
• What are my personal and career goals?
• What is my “calling” — the work that I cannot not do?”
• With what Organization, Industry, Profession or Group do I want to serve?
Result: Own Who You Are — Personal Strategy and Brand.
Possible question starters: Jim Collins and Michael Porter on strategy
The three questions that must be answered in the development of “Own Who You Are” (what Jim Collins calls the “hedgehog” concept) are:
1. What can you be the best in the world at?
2. What drives your economic engine?
3. What are you deeply passionate about?
“Level 5 Leadership” — Harvard Business Review July 2005, Jim Collins
Michael Porter has an equally simple framework for questions:
• is the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities.
• requires you to make trade-offs in competing — to choose what not to do.
• involves creating ‘fit’ among a company’s activities.
“What is Strategy?” — Harvard Business Review Nov-Dec. 1996, Michael Porter
All it takes to begin a Pragmatic Inquiry is
a serious challenge, question, need, concern, idea, doubt or opportunity. .
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