by Patricia Lustig

If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.
~Albert Einstein

It’s a big mess out there. In fact, it is probably several messes, all inextricably linked. How does a leader make sense of it all? How do you find a way to navigate through the mess and make reasonable, robust decisions?

We are in the UK, yet the world is so interconnected that things like Brexit and President-Elect Trump affect everyone, no matter where we live. I was with the Board of a social enterprise (a regional housing association) during the two days pre-and post the US election, working on their strategy for the future. With the realization that Trump had been elected, the team surfaced on the post U.S. election morning looking like an animal caught in the headlights. The unthinkable had happened. What do we do now? What does it mean?

They looked at the work we had done on the previous day with a different perspective and considered what all this might mean to their stakeholders. What did the results of Brexit and the U.S. election mean to their current environment? In the first minutes of the morning after Trump’s win was announced, they touched on helplessness in the face of the unthinkable. Then their brand-new leader asked a question: “How might we find opportunities in this space? How might we do things differently? What if we weren’t JUST a housing association – what could we do that might be win/win?”


What is a leader to do? Find the right questions.