"In your heart of hearts... will it work?"
Some time ago I was in a meeting that was rife with opinions regarding a project, including technical discussion and thoughts on whether the project would get off the ground.
As the meeting was breaking up, a leader looked at the project owner and simply asked, "In your heart of hearts, will it work?".
I thought it was a brilliant question!
For those of you not familiar with the term "In your heart of hearts", it is an idiom that refers to knowing something for certain very deep inside yourself, although you might not want to admit it... sometimes not even to yourself.
The question has nothing to do with technical specifications, resource management or operating mechanisms, but something far more fundamental and core to building something sustainable...
TRUST, HONESTY, RELIABILITY, and the ability to get at an answer to help make a better decision.
Most of us are trustworthy, honest and reliable, but every so often we find ourselves with something that we believe in so much, have worked so hard on, and have committed so much to, that when signs arise contrary to what we believe in, we suppress it and go on believing everything is just fine. In effect, we start fooling ourselves, and for no other reason than "simply being human". This is why I love this question so much... it gets to the heart of the matter! (And yes, the puns are intended)
In a practical sense, the answers to "In your heart of hearts... will it work?" are simply "YES, NO or I don't know".
More often than not there is preamble before you get one of these answers... but you will (just be patient). For the less patient in the crowd, you can set the question up like this, "In your heart of hearts... will it work - Yes, No or I don't know?". There is much less preamble in my experience.
To be effective, this question should not be asked by text, twitter, email, phone or anything other than face to face. Remember that business is a social enterprise, so when you ask a "heart of hearts" question you need to be face to face; not only to uncover the answers you need to make a business decision, but also to confirm the fundamentals of trust, honesty and reliability.
It is such a great leadership question to ask or to be asked, because as I've said, "it gets to the heart of the matter, helps make better decisions, and confirms you are working with the right people".
You just have to love it!
There just seems to be an endless amount of puns with this... sorry!