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Gilb’s “Twelve Tough Questions”

Tom Gilb is known for his work in software engineering and systems engineering. He has developed the concept of “12 tough questions”, which are designed to help stakeholders (including project managers, software developers, business owners, etc.) clarify the objectives, feasibility, risks, and readiness of a project or initiative.

These questions represent a thorough and sensible approach to business management, offering a lens through which to critically evaluate business proposals, strategies, and practices.

The key themes of these questions revolve around:

  1. Measurability: Can results be quantitatively assessed, especially in terms of quality and benefits?
  2. Critical Success Factors: Are all vital aspects considered and controlled for achieving success?
  3. Estimation of Results: Are there reliable methods to predict outcomes from strategies and products?
  4. Risk Control: Are there mechanisms in place to manage risks through incremental result delivery?
  5. Quality Control: Are the plans, contracts, and strategies themselves of high quality and robust?

These questions encourage a culture of accountability, foresight, and rigorous analysis, which can be initially challenging but ultimately beneficial for the overall health and success of a business.

The questions are:

  1. Numbers: Improvement or growth should always be quantified to accurately measure success.
  2. Risk: Understanding potential risks or uncertainties is crucial in any business model.
  3. Doubt: Being confident in the business strategy and being able to articulate why is essential.
  4. Source: The information upon which business decisions are made should be reliable and verifiable.
  5. Impact: All decisions should be analyzed for their potential impact on company goals and budgets.
  6. All critical factors: Every significant aspect affecting the survival and growth of the business should be considered.
  7. Evidence: Decisions should be based on tested and verified knowledge or understanding.
  8. Enough: All aspects of the business model should be thoroughly considered to ensure requirements are met.
  9. Profitability first: The business strategies should prioritize profit-making actions.
  10. Commitment: Clear responsibility for the success or failure of strategies should be established.
  11. Proof: Regular checkpoints should be established to ensure strategies are working as planned.
  12. No cure, no pay: Contractual obligations should be aligned with successful delivery of services or products.


Page last modified: 2023-05-18 01:55:15