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John Adair's 100 Greatest Ideas for Smart Decision Making by John Adair

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Idea 18: Asking the right questions

I keep six honest serving-men

They taught me all I knew;

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book and the Just So Stories

Kipling’s famous ‘serving-men’ are not only good teachers, they can also be great tools for achieving clarity.

Think of them as a sculptor’s chisels. You can use them to chip away at a block of information until the shape inside it – the inner reality – becomes clear and visible. It is only by asking the right question, and only sometimes by repeating it three times, that you get at the truth.

Case study: Churchill and R.V. Jones

During his period as Prime Minister during the Second World War, Sir Winston’s favourite ‘boffin’ ...

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