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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

The Power of Questions

What do Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Grain Belt Beer all have in common??? All three know the enormous power of asking questions:

Albert Einstein said – “The important thing is NOT to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Steve Jobs is quoted as saying– “Spend fifteen minutes a day asking questions that challenge the status quo. Instead of asking “how?” use questions that begin with “why?” and “what if?”

Minneapolis Brewing Company, the brewers of Grain Belt, decided to install a state-of-the-art canning line that would allow their beer to be marketed in supermarkets. This was a major change for the little regional company. Local dignitaries and past employees were invited to witness the first running of the new canning line, which was followed by a reception.

After the new line had been switched on successfully and the ribbon cutting completed, the guests relaxed in small groups to chat. In a quiet corner stood three men discussing trucks and transport and distribution – one was the present distribution manager, and the other two were past holders of the post, having retired many years ago. The three men represented three generations of company distribution management, spanning over sixty years.

The present distribution manager confessed that his job was becoming extremely difficult because the company’s long standing policy that required long deliveries to be made on Monday and Tuesday while short deliveries would be made on Fridays.  “It’s so difficult to schedule things efficiently – heaven knows what we’ll do with these new cans and the tight demands of the supermarkets – this expansion might sink the company…” The other two men nodded in agreement.

“It was the same in my day, it always seemed strange to me that trucks returning early on Mondays and Tuesdays couldn’t be used for little local runs, because the local deliveries had to be left until Friday.” The third man nodded, and was thinking hard, struggling to recall the policy’s roots many years ago when he’d had worked at the company. After a pause, the third man smiled and then ventured a suggestion.

“I think I remember now,” He said, “It was the horses….. During the Second World War fuel rationing was introduced. So we stopped using trucks and went back to using horses. On Mondays the horses were well-rested after the weekend – hence the long deliveries. By Friday the horses were so tired they could only handle the short local drops…” Soon after starting the new canning line they changed their delivery policy and found great success selling into supermarkets.

When everyone mindlessly does what they are told and no one boldly asks the question – “Why do we do it this way?” you can be at risk for problems. As we build our economy here in Tama County all of us need to regularly step back and question how we do what we do.



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One Comment on “The Power of Questions”

  1. brianwebii September 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Nice expansion on an age-old idea. A lot of people grow concerned when a question (often guised as an issue) arises in personal and professional affairs. The greatest aspect of our lives is that we have the opportunity, more often than not, to question the norm and ignite change. As you’ve noted in the beginning of this piece, many of the best and brightest of our time have been inspired by unanswered questions. While fear is often attributed to the unknown, it’s important to realize that progression and questioning can be one in the same if performed in the right way.

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