I was discussing the Fortune article about uber-consultant Ram Charan, titled “The Strange Existence of Ram Charan” with a few colleagues. We reached the following conclusions:
1. Ram Charan is a true road warrior. Nothing we do or experience will come close to his schedule!
2. His approach doesn’t rely as much on organizational development models or management consulting theories. He just knows how to ask questions.
Per the Fortune article, written by David Whitford:
Generalizing about what Charan does for his clients is tricky, but that lack of definition paradoxically is at the heart of his success. His method is no method. He is wary of abstraction and belongs to no school of management theory. “Converting highfalutin ideas to the specifics of the company and the leader – that’s the trick,” he once confided to me in an elevator. “The other part is working backward to define what the need is, and then searching for what helps. Then you bring it to common sense, and common sense is very uncommon.”
“Observations, Curiosity, and Care”
This is also known as ‘head and heart.’ I posted a “Short, simple list of rules” last month that describes how I see Mr. Charan’s approach. Teaching and learning, searching for the true and useful, give/get value, etc. All using the power of questions.
Why Are Questions So Powerful?
They’re not, really. Not just any questions. Mr. Charan’s gift is knowing which questions to ask and when. A three-year old can say, “Why?” many times. Not always helpful. Rarely helpful. The combined knowledge of business, coaching, and specific situational insight allows for the best questions. This doesn’t have to be a ‘20 questions’ interrogation. Observe, be curious, and, from Mr. Charan himself,
“Purpose before self.”