Question 0 is, Are the people we’re trying to talk with open to talking?
The answer to that question can determine so much else about how to begin and how to proceed. For example, if they are open to talking, are they open to talking with us?
Here are 10 further questions:
- What do we want to talk about or change?
- Why? (What’s the real issue here?)
- Whom are we speaking for?
- Whom are we speaking to?
- What is the change we’re trying to make (or would like to see)?
- Who has power to make that change?
- What are the interests and issue histories at play?
- What’s our budget, in time, money, energy, attention, etc.?
- What are we asking, demanding, or implying the other person budget?
- What’s the timeline for change and who controls it?
This is a little bit different than beginning with the end in mind. “What does done look like?” is a good question to ask about a bridge across the river, but a much slipperier question to ask about a bridge from here to a better future.
It’s certainly different than demanding Change! Now!
Bureaucracy, complexity, and difficulty are not reasons change cannot or should not be made, but they are real obstacles to making effective change happen.