By far, the most effective way I have found to summon useful action is using an impact question.
Right now, what can I do that will have the greatest impact on ________________ ( Team / Trust / Quality / …)
Right now, what can we stop doing that will have the greatest impact on ________________ (Project A / Morale / Timeline / …)
The trick, it appears to me, consists of two pillars supporting the ‘greatest impact’:
PUTTING OFF DEFERRAL – The “Right now” part of the question stops wishful thinking and sets up the present moment as the time for action.
CREATING AGENCY – The “I / we” part of the question cuts off blame and complaining. It makes me or the team the change agent.
If you find yourself in a situation when your next action appears lost in an ocean of to do’s, tasks, priorities or reading materials, I suggest you give yourself some quiet space and try this question. For me, it is not uncommon that the answer is unexpectedly simple and powerful—and not always in my to do list.