Introducing the 3Ws: 3 questions leaders can ask to keep a team on track - The Australian Grocery Academy
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Introducing the 3Ws: 3 questions leaders can ask to keep a team on track

Introducing the 3Ws: 3 questions leaders can ask to keep a team on track







Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Three questions – that’s all – to help switch off firefighting mode and give you back a sense of control over what’s happening in your team.

The thing is, you’ll need to hit pause first. I know, you say you don’t have time, but it worries me that we’re so hard wired to keep on going. Always focused on the next task to the point where we don’t see the value in taking a moment to ask ourselves what we’re doing and why. But we should stop and check in.

So, what’s the answer? 

Three simple questions, also known here as the 3Ws framework. But you just need to remember 3Ws.

  1. What do we want to achieve and why?
  2. Where are we now?
  3. What’s next?

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? There isn’t a lot of time or headspace available for radical new thinking or complicated models, and honestly? You don’t need complicated. Sometimes the answer is simple and we’re all about pragmatic answers.

(We also have the 3Cs if you want another easy framework – this one is great when your team is stuck. Read about it here)


How to use the 3Ws  

You could try opening your next team meeting with these three questions and guide your team through the discussion and then keep them as a regular standing item on the agenda. Or you could set aside time to focus on them away from the regular agenda. It really depends where and what your biggest challenge is.

W1: What do we want to achieve and why?

This opening question is all about the big picture and direction you’re heading in. It challenges you to get clear about the ‘why?’. It’s worth taking your time here to make sure everyone gets the ‘why’ because it’ll give context and clarity to the discussion you have around the second and third questions.

W2: Where are we now?

Time for honesty. Once you have clarity on the big picture, it’s time to reflect on where your team is now? You don’t have to all agree with each other, but people must be able to feel safe giving honest feedback without fear of repercussions.

W3: What next?

What do you need to do to make sure the plans you’re putting into place are the right ones for your team and the business?


Don’t wait for a crisis to use the 3Ws

Whatever you do though, don’t wait for a crisis to bring out the 3Ws. The beauty is that you can use them any time. But if you’ve spotted that:

  • people are just firefighting all the time; or
  • going off at a tangent and following their own pet projects and ideas
  • there’s tension and conflict in the team; or
  • the age old ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ is being heard a little too often.

maybe it is time to bring out the 3Ws.


Simple framework, chunky conversations: what support do you need? 

You don’t need us in the room to run through the 3Ws but if you want some guidance before you meet your team, get in touch and we’ll give you a steer and confidence boost. This might be a new way of doing things for you and your team and we know that can be unsettling – it’s still worth doing though.


What’s the upside for your team? 

There’s always an upside when you involve people in decisions that affect them. These three questions will help everyone to feel engaged, especially giving them the chance to speak up and share their opinions.

It’ll also help them to see the link between their to-do list, the projects other team members are pursuing and how they connect with the wider business aims.

Plus, by involving your team, they’ll feel more engaged, and you should feel the pressure of being the single point of success or failure lift.



If you want to know more about our frameworks and how we help leaders and teams stay on track, contact CEO, Dan Meek or Head of EMEA, Mark Ferguson.