Advice from Adam: The Only 3 Questions You’ll Ever Need to Know

For over a year now, I’ve been meeting almost every week with a guy named Adam Schultz and his team at Change & Course. He’s been offering some great insight on how to improve GovLoop and it just dawned on me this week that you’d probably benefit from the lessons I’m learning, too. With that idea in mind, I thought I’d launch a little series that I’ll post now and then called “Advice from Adam,” sharing bits of brilliance from my buddy.

This past Tuesday, we were talking about replicating success – whether it’s a writing project, a marketing campaign or a product development process. Adam suggested that we should always begin by asking the same three questions:

1) What outcomes do we need to achieve?
2) What do we have in terms of resources (time, money, people, etc.)?
3) How much time do we have to complete it?

Simple questions, but they ensure that we’re moving in the right direction.

He also urged me to document our processes that lead to outcome achievement (i.e. developing a new guide, launching a new blog or forum series, setting up a group, or promoting a charity campaign, etc.). Typically, there’s a common road map that guides us through these projects.

The path for GovLoop might be:

a) Ask the community for input.
b) Develop a prototype.
c) Share it with the community as a test.
d) Get feedback.
e) Iterate and launch.
f) Ask for more feedback from the community.
g) Iterate and make the thing even more awesome.

I think too often in government – and any sector for that matter – we tend to forget a) and d). We build products or services and release them without any feedback from citizens (aka “customers”). In fact, the first time most products or services get feedback is when it’s shared with the public at launch…and if the feedback is negative, the project could be sunk from the start.

Also, it might be helpful if government used the same language that I just used above – community. Of course, local governments have an advantage in the sense that they have a defined geographic region that is often called just that – a community.

But what if Federal and state levels of government thought about the people they are trying to reach as “community” and got them involved in the process of developing products and services much earlier in a development life cycle?

I’d love to get your feedback.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Allen Sheaprd

So simple – yet how many people can not explain the misison statem? Well I’ve heard some mission statements that do not mach what I thought the department did = “Deliver customer excellence” ( what the heck?)

While I agree this works on GovLoop and in business does it work for the people?

As a governemnt do we deliver products and services? Do governments empower and allow others to flurish?

I ask because of question #1, your #1 question ” What outcomes do we need to achieve? ”

There is a good book called “Everything I need to know I learned watching Star Trek” The author breaks down the opening monolog.

What – Voyages

Who – The USS Enterprise

Time – 5 year mission

Goal – see out new life & life forms

How – to boldly go

Where – where no man has gone before.

Simple yet your three questions are simpler.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Hey Allen – Absolutely. Government provides products (whether that’s policies or licenses or websites or informational brochures) and obviously much of what government does is service-oriented.

Love the Star Trek example – were they a commercial or government “enterprise”?