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The Importance of Asking the Question, “What Else?”

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

January 6, 2021: Program & project management thought leadership

You can teach an old dog new tricks.

Several years ago, and after close to 20 years as a project manager, I learned something new, something I now consider critical. I use it all of the time, at every stage of a project and even at the end of most meetings!

I had the pleasure of working with a project manager who ended many conversations with “What else?”.

  • At the end of a meeting with a new department that she did not know all that well, she asked “What else?”.

  • At the end of a meeting with a project team she had worked with for years, she asked “What else?”.

  • At the end of a conversation about the project strategy or about setting up a communications plan or about deployment, she asked “What else?”.

I could go on and on, but you probably know what she would say.

The brilliance of this question is many-fold:

  1. It offers people who have not spoken a chance to speak up

  2. It gives the team an opportunity to reflect on what they might have missed

  3. It displays a true open-mindedness to other thoughts, opinions, ideas, or tasks

  4. It is an open-ended question which means responses can come in all shapes and sizes. Unlike the question “Anything else?” which indicates that everyone can disperse if the answer is “no”.

  5. It shows the team that they can bring things up at any time, even at a later date

If you don’t already use “What else?” as part of your project manager leadership role, I encourage you to try it.

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