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The Power of Questions

Written by : Jim Estill
2007-08-15
I began as the founder and CEO of EMJ, a computer distributing company that grew from zero to over $350,000,000 in sales. I sold EMJ to SYNNEX, and became the CEO of SYNNEX Canada, a company that does over $1 billion in sales. One thing I have learned through these years of experience is the power of questions.

One of my passions is the study and practice of time management. After 25 years of running EMJ, I had developed systems and methodologies to deal with my time and my schedule. When I started working at SYNNEX, those systems that had served me well for so many years, no longer worked. All of a sudden I had too many emails; I had too many meetings; I had too many people asking for a piece of my time. I wasn’t being efficient and I needed a change.

The Question that I asked myself was “How can I change my systems to allow me to handle the increased volume?”

For a company to continue to thrive, we need to ask ourselves these “how” questions and never accept the status quo. We need to look at every process to figure out if there is a better way of doing it. There is tremendous power in the questions that we ask.

I find too often, people ask the “why” or worse yet, the “why not” question. Either way they get an answer. Why they cannot lose weight, why they cannot get ahead etc. Substitute “how” and the answers become powerful.

If I were to ask the question, “How can we ship 5 percent more?”, usually the answer is that we keep doing the job the same way that we have always been doing it except we need to work a bit harder. If we ask big questions like, “How can we sell 50 percent more?”, our mind automatically figures that we need to do something differently than what we have been doing and come up with more creative solutions.

The powerful questions to ask are “How” and make the “How” big enough that there has to be a big change.

Jim Estill is the CEO of SYNNEX Canada.

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