Removing the Obstacles to Effortless High Performance

Breaking the Rules Imagine this: You are a high-paid consultant, and you think you're pretty good. Your approach is different, even radical (some would say), but you know your stuff. There's a potential client with a challenge--and he's offering you a check for $150,000...and there's more, lots more, if you need it. Want to play?

Wait! You want to know more about that "challenge."

Okay.... The client is in charge of a huge software development project. There's a problem. It's a $100 million effort, involving some 400 software engineers. They're 38 months into a 60-month government contract for running a big-bucks piece of military equipment. The technical requirements of the contract are very, very complex. The team has slipped its schedule in each of the first 38 months of work. The effort has now fallen an estimated 18 months behind schedule. There's a stipulation in the contract for a whopping $30 million in penalties if the team is still 18 months behind schedule at the 48-month milestone--which is now just 10 months away.

So, still want the job? Kurt Wright did; in fact, he jumped at the chance. It was another opportunity to demonstrate the power of Breaking the Rules.

Kurt knew that if he could simply change the question the team was running on, from "What's going wrong?" to "What's going right?" he'd have the problem licked.

And lick it he did. Taking just six weeks, using only $90,000 of the $150,000 budget, Kurt walked away from the job telling his client he wasn't needed any more: success was a done deal. Eight months later, that phase of the project was completed on schedule--and $15 million under budget. Add that $15 million savings to the vanished $30 million penalty...that's a $45 million payoff--just because of asking the Wright questions...pun 100 percent intended.

So, what are the right questions? Here they are--and please, if you've spent a lifetime asking "What's wrong?" or "What's missing?," don't let the "radical" simplicity of these questions fool you:


1. "What's right?" or "What's working?"

2. "What makes it right?" or "Why does it work?"

3. "What would be ideally right?" or "What would work ideally?"

4. "What's not quite right yet?"

5. "What resources can I find to make it right?"


Why do Kurt Wright's right questions make a difference?

Because they engage a different part of the mind than the problem-finding, Mr.-Fix-It ones we're used to. The analytical mind thinks and decides with objective knowledge, logic and reason. It is, Wright writes, deductive: i.e., it concludes by taking things apart, making them smaller and smaller. The intuitive mind, by contrast, synthesizes, makes whole, is subjective, wisdom-based and visionary. It puts things together.

There's more. Much more. So, want to go Breaking the Rules? My intuitive mind thought you might.

Hardcover, 305 pages, $23.95; CPM Publishing.