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The Detective Mindset in Business

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Throughout my experience in business, I've come to learn that there are two crucial questions worth asking in any business situation.

  1. What is going on?

The answers to this question can be found in business strategy, operational meeting agenda items, roadmaps, or milestones that everyone anticipates. For example, everyone can say that the goal is to deliver products faster and an experience that delights customers.

Thus, the question "What's going on?" can help us identify the problems that prevented us from achieving this goal. Perhaps there are problems with processes or the ability to quickly respond to customer requests. By identifying these problems, we can take steps to solve them and thus get closer to achieving the intended goal.

It can also help us identify business opportunities that could give us competitive advantages. For example, perhaps there is a growing trend in our industry to provide personalized service, and the question "What's going on?" can help us identify this opportunity and adapt accordingly.

A simple question can serve as a powerful tool in any business situation, both for identifying problems and identifying opportunities. By asking the question "What's going on?", we can ensure that we focus on the important things and take the necessary steps to achieve our goals.

2. What's really going on?

It's a less common question, but one that reveals the whole story. These topics are usually not on the agenda of the weekly operational meeting but are obstacles to overcoming the challenge. For example, we may not want to repeat the mistakes we made in the past because we tried similar endeavors and failed.

The question "What is really going on?" can help us identify hidden problems or taboo topics that have prevented us from achieving our goals. These can be issues related to organizational culture, people, responses to current challenges like denial or even resistance to change.

To understand the answers to the first question, one needs to be an expert in the field, while answering the second question requires one to act like a detective. In the absence of identifying the real cause, future results are likely to be the same, and the business will fail to progress.

Therefore, asking the right questions is essential in any business situation. By asking these questions, we can ensure that we focus on the important things, take the necessary steps to achieve our goals, and avoid repeating past mistakes. Both questions - "What is going on?" and "What's really going on?" - are powerful tools that can uncover hidden opportunities and obstacles.


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