Asking Good Questions (Inspiration Behind Indago)

“Leaders today need to revisit an overlooked skill: asking questions.”

So writes John Hagel III in a recent Harvard Business School Review article titled, “Good Leadership Is About Asking Good Questions.” Here are some excerpts:

You think you have the answers to all important questions? That suggests that you are either clueless — you have no idea how rapidly the world is changing — or that you are lying. In either case, you won’t find that trust that you’ve been looking for. Instead, leaders should ask powerful and inspiring questions, convey that they don’t have the answers, and solicit others’ help to find them.

The kind of questions leaders need to ask are those that invite people to come together to explore major new opportunities that your organization hasn’t identified yet. Here are some examples … ‘How can we develop supply networks that would be more flexible in responding to unanticipated disruptions in production or logistics?’

These questions also invite collaboration. To make the most of them, don’t ask them in closed leadership meetings. Instead, broadcast them throughout your organization and even beyond it [emphasis mine] … Reaching out beyond the institution to connect with expertise and perspectives from a broader set of more diverse sources will help your company learn faster.

This article reminded me of a story I read in The New York Times about Isidor I. Rabi, the Nobel laureate in physics, which I wrote about a few years ago in “Did You Ask A Good Question Today?”:

Isidor I. Rabi, the Nobel laureate in physics was once asked, ”Why did you become a scientist, rather than a doctor or lawyer or businessman, like the other immigrant kids in your neighborhood?”

”My mother made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: ‘So? Did you learn anything today?’ But not my mother. She always asked me a different question. ‘Izzy,’ she would say, ‘did you ask a good question today?’ That difference – asking good questions – made me become a scientist!”

Asking good questions is particularly important in supply chain and logistics, where new technologies, business models, competitors, legislation, economic issues, and so on are constantly emerging, which requires companies to continuously evolve their supply chain processes, thinking and networks.

Asking Good Questions: The Inspiration Behind Indago

Enabling supply chain and logistics professionals to ask good questions and learn from each other (in a trusted and confidential manner) is what inspired us to launch our Indago research community almost two years ago. Since we launched, our members (supply chain and logistics professionals from manufacturing, retail, and distribution companies) have shared their perspectives and advice on a wide variety of industry topics — everything from “Which supply chain certification programs would you recommend?” to “What are your top desired outcomes from future improvements in transportation management?”

(Follow these links to see the questions we asked in Q4 2020, Q3 2020, and 1H 2020).

This week we’re exploring questions related to last mile delivery: Is last mile delivery becoming a competitive differentiator? What factors are driving innovation in last-mile delivery? As is the case every week, we sent out the micro-survey on Monday and our members will get the results on Friday. 

Why join Indago? Here are a couple of testimonials from current members:

“When asked if I was interested in joining the Indago research community, I jumped at the opportunity. They have put together a group of peers across the industry to answer 2 to 3 question quick surveys weekly. I have a chance to benchmark best practices across the supply chain … A few minutes of my Monday are spent answering questions that benefits the charity partner I have chosen. It is a very small time investment to make a difference in someone’s life who will benefit from the charity. We also benefit by benchmarking our practices with those of the group.” [VP of Supply Chain, $100-500M Consumer Goods Company]

“I decided to join Indago for two reasons. One is to be part of a group that provides real time feedback from companies on topics in the supply chain world. The second reason is that Indago supports charities that make the world a better place. It’s a great one – two combination!” [Director of Freight & Warehousing, $1B+ Food & Beverage Company]

If you’re a supply chain or logistics practitioner from a manufacturing, retail, or distribution company, I encourage you to learn more about Indago and what makes us different.

Yes, we are different: your participation is confidential, there is no cost to join, and the time commitment is minimal (2-4 minutes per week) — plus your participation will help support charitable causes like JDRF, American Logistics Aid Network, American Cancer Society, Feeding America, and Make-A-Wish (we’ve donated over $6,000 since launching!)

Find out what you’re missing. Join Indago today!

What Are Your Questions?

“Leaders who ask powerful questions have the greatest success in both seizing new opportunities and addressing unexpected challenges — and they build cultures that will carry these benefits into the future,” concludes Hagel.  

So, what are your questions?

Part of what makes Indago unique is the ability for members to submit their own questions to the research community. Once you become a member of Indago, what supply chain or logistics questions would you like us to ask your peers in the research community? Post a comment and let us know.