Peter Drucker: The Truly Dangerous Thing

“The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.” Peter Drucker


Wrong questions when promoting from within:

When you need a supervisor for a team of engineers, the question isn’t, “Is this potential supervisor a good engineer?”

Beware the right answer to the wrong question.

“Yes, this person is doing a great job in their role as an engineer. Let’s promote them to supervisor.”

Right questions:

Organizations promote the wrong people because they ask about the past and neglect the future.

The right questions when promoting from within:

  1. What do we expect our new supervisor to accomplish?
  2. What attitudes and behaviors produce the ends we expect?
  3. How does this potential supervisor currently exhibit the attitude and behaviors unearthed from question one and two?
  4. How has this potential supervisor responded to stretch assignments?

Recovering from the right answer to the wrong question is painful and slow. How do you demote someone you wrongly promoted? But, if you ask the right questions, you save everyone a world of hurt.

“We define our dialogue and, in a sense, our future through the questions we choose to address.” Peter Block


When seeking advancement, ask, “How might I live like my future self now?”

What questions should be asked when promoting from within?

When have you seen the danger of getting the right answer to the wrong question?