There is a common thought experiment given to business school students and sometimes employees (when their employers are seeking feedback): “if you could hold the reins (of the organisation) for a week, what would you do?”

In considering how to answer, perhaps a good beginning question is “Well, it depends: what is the core purpose of the organisation?”

For the sake of using an example, let’s say the organization is a bakery, and its core purpose is “to bake the best-quality bread” (think an artisan bakery, not a mainstream franchise shop).

Having decided what is the core purpose (to bake the best bread), there are some logical follow-on questions:

  • Are we any good at baking bread? How do we know – what are the systems in place to measure our baking ability?
  • How do we invest in our baking ability? Are we getting better over time?
  • How do we compare with other bakeries – are we worse, equal or better and in what aspects?
  • Who in the bakery should have the greatest ability in baking, and are they therefore spending all their time baking?

I reckon you can replace “baking” with whatever the organization being examined exists to achieve; and the above questions will give some sensible starting areas of investigation.