The 5 Most Important Questions

The five most important questions you will ever ask about your organization.

1. What is our mission?
2. Who is our customer?
3. What does our customer value?
4. What are our results?
5. What is our plan?

1. What is our mission?

  • What are our opportunities?
  • What is our competence?
  • What is our commitment?

A Mission cannot be impersonal; it has to have deep meaning, be something you believe in – something you know is right. A fundamental responsibility of leadership is to make sure that everybody knows the mission, understands it, and lives it. Peter F. Drucker

A mission statement should fit on a T-Shirt. It says why you do what you do, not the means by which you do it. To have an effective mission, you have to work out an exacting match of your opportunities, competence, and commitment. The ultimate test is not the beauty of your mission statement – it is your performance! If a great opportunity does not fit your mission, than the answer must be “Thank you, but no.”

  • What are our challenges?
  • Does the mission need to be re-defined?

The mission answers the questions:

  • What is our purpose?
  • Why do we do what we do?
  • What, in the end, do we want to be remembered for?

2. Who is our customer?

  • Who is our primary customer?
  • Who is our supporting customer?
  • How will our customers change?

Who must be satisfied for the organization to achieve results? Identifying your primary customer puts your priorities in order and gives you a reference point for critical decisions on the organization’s values. Knowing who is your customer provides the basis for determining what customers value, defining your results and developing the plan.

“Only customers can guarantee your job” Jack Welch

“The best companies don’t create customers. They create fans.” Peter F. Drucker

It is less important to report better profits than to check on whether you improved your share of the customer’s heart and mind this year. The old thinking was that customers would hear about us and, we hope, choose our products. The new thinking is that we, the company, choose our customers.

We must master our knowledge of who the target customers are , who and what influences them, and how to create highly satisfying customer experiences. Recognize that today’s customers are increasingly buying on value, not on relationship. Your success ultimately depends on what you contribute to the success of your customers.

3. What does the customer value?

  • What do we believe our primary and supporting customers value?
  • What knowledge do we need to gain from our customers?
  • What will I participate in gaining this knowledge?

Leadership should not even try to guess at the answers, but should always go to the customers in a systematic quest for those answers.

  • What does the primary customer value?
  • What do supporting customers value?

Listen to customers, accept what they value as objective fact, and make sure that customer’s voice is part of your discussions and decisions.

“Everything exemplary leaders do is about creating value for their customers.”Jim Kouzes

Customers value an organization that seeks their feedback and that is capable of solving their problems and meeting their needs. Customers value a leader and a team who have the ability to listen and the courage to challenge the “business-as-usual” environment, all in service of the yearning of the customer.

4. What are our results?

  • How do we define results?
  • Are we successful?
  • How should we define results?
  • What must we strengthen or abandon?

Look at short-term accomplishments and long-term change.

“Each organization must identify its customers, learn what they value, develop meaningful measures, and honestly judge whether, in fact, lives are being changed.” Peter F. Drucker

  • What have we achieved that contributed to changed lives?
  • Where do we focus now for results tomorrow?
  • What must be strengthened or abandoned?

You must match your mission, your concentration, and your results. Like the New Testament parable of the talents, your job is to invest your resources where the returns are manifold, where you can have success.

The mission defines the scope of your responsibility. Leadership is accountable to determine what must be appraised and judged, to protect the organization form squandering resources, and to ensure meaningful results.

“Results are the key to our survival” Peter F. Drucker

5. What is our Plan?

  • Should the mission be changed?
  • What are our goals?

The plan encompasses mission, vision, goals, objectives, action steps, a budget, and appraisal.

To further the mission, there must be action today and specific aims for tomorrow. Yet planning is not masterminding the future. Any attempt to do so is foolish; the future is unpredictable. In fact face of uncertainties, planning defines the particular place you want to be and how you intend to get there. Goals are few, overarching, and approved by the board.

Goals flow from mission, aim the organization in the direction it must go, build on strength, address opportunity, and taken together, outline your desired future (vision).

“One prays for miracles but works for results” St. Augustine

Your plan leads you to work for results. It converts intentions into action.

The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization by Peter F. Drucker

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