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Strategic Implications of 12 Unasked Questions in Response to Disaster

Checklist of questions
Implications of Afghanistan
Implication of Boston Marathon bombings
Common pattern of strategic responses?
Asking appropriate strategic questions
Further possible strategic implications
Strategic frame setting through a pattern of questions
Strategic questioning

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Produced on the occasion of publication of an analysis of What Went Wrong in Afghanistan (Foreign Policy, March/April 2013)
and of investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings (April 2013)

Checklist of questions

1. What questions have not been asked?

2. Is any checklist of questions, asked and unasked, maintained as a source of collective learning?

3. Who ensured that the unasked questions were designed off the table?

4. What agenda is served by not asking particular questions?

5. What pressures are applied to those endeavouring to ask those questions, and what penalties result from asking them?

6. What is not addressed through the framing provided by the questions which are asked?

7. Will providing a satisfactory answer to the questions asked resolve the issue -- or will the issue re-emerge, perhaps reinforced, in a new form on a subsequent occasion?

8. Does allocation of resources to the question asked ensure that no resources are allocated to those that are not?

9. Do previous strategic challenges offer examples of ignoring uncomfortable questions -- and failing to learn from them?

10. Does the strategic focus on isolating (and eliminating) a primary cause serve primarily to assuage public opinion by enabling "Mission Accomplished" to be declared?

11. By addressing symptoms, does the quest for symbols of rapid closure through conventional strategies serve to avoid any need for rethinking on how to address more deep-seated systemic ills?

12. How vulnerable is a society rendered, whether through failure to ask such questions or through the lack of higher orders of thinking it indicates as being necessary?

A "13th question", might well be: what are the questions to which no one in authority wants an answer?

The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers.
The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.
Peter F. Drucker

a href="">Peter F. Drucker

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