Monday, February 11, 2013

Question Time For Nonprofits

You've probably been told at least once in your lifetime that the only stupid question is the one that is not asked. That might be true, but there are times when asking a questions is more appropriate than others.

As Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas wrote in their book, "Power Questions," asking questions is important. But, just as important is knowing when to ask the right question. The two authors used the question "How will this further your nonprofit's mission and goals?" as an example of this theory. While the question is very relevant to organizations, Sobel and Panas stated that it is of most use when asked at specific times.

They suggested asking it when:

  • When you see someone doing things that are inconsistent with the core mission;
  • When someone is making a decision to invest significant time and resources in a new direction; and,
  • When you suspect the other person has not thought through what the mission and goals really are.
Sobel and Panas also suggested variations of the same question, such as:
  • Can you remind me of your mission and goals?
  • Is this consistent with your values and beliefs?
Finally, there are some follow-up questions:
  • Why/Why not?
  • Are there other ideas or initiatives you’re considering that would also support your mission -- which also merit consideration?

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