As many teenagers and students have reached the end of the exam season and can finally get their heads out of their books, Mark gives a timely reminder about the importance in business of getting the exam question right.
You’ll often hear me ask in client and internal meetings, “what’s the exam question?”. Well, not so much often, more like most of the time. It’s a phrase I’ve stolen from the Yoda book of facilitation to help meetings reach the conclusions they’re designed to. I do love the simplicity of the question and its ability to quickly focus minds on the task or problem in hand.
All too often we’re in meetings which meander around the houses, avoid the issues or fail to reach conclusions and make decisions, even with a set agenda. So anyone planning a meeting or setting out an agenda should ask themselves this question upfront.
The context to the exam question will be something like ‘how do we..?/when do we..?/who is…?’ and by considering this upfront enables meeting planners to keep the agenda focused and targeted around answering a specific question. It also challenges you to ponder whether you’re actually asking yourself the right question.
So next time you’re in a meeting and wondering why you’re there and what people are talking about, be brave and ask, “could I just clarify the exam question?”. Fingers crossed you won’t get any of these quite brilliant exam questions and answers…
Q: What do Mahatma Gandhi and Genghis Kahn have in common?
A: They both have unusual names
Q: Name six animals which live specifically in the Arctic
A: Two polar bears and four seals
Q: Where was the American Declaration of Independence signed?
A: At the bottom