The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization – A Book Review

In Book Reviews, BUSINESS PLANNING, Land & Money, Management, Uncategorized by James2 Comments

What are the essential questions all business owners must have answers to in order to be successful? According to business legend Peter Drucker there are five of them. In The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization Peter Drucker reveals his thoughts on what these questions are, and how to address them, with additional commentary by several other leading authors and thinkers in the business world. I first heard the name Peter Drucker while reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Allen’s book had an immediate impact on my life, and considering the amount of times he referenced Drucker I figured reading him would be worthwhile. It was.

What’s In The Book?

The book is separated into five sections:

1. What Is Our Mission?
2. Who Is Our Customer?
3. What Does the Customer Value?
4. What Are Our Results?
5. What Is Our Plan?

Each chapter presents the question and goes into more detail about exactly what the question is asking and what a well thought out answer looks like. At the end of the book there is a self-assessment workbook section that expands on each question and provides further prompts to accurately examine the questions, determine where your organization is, and what weak spots it might need to address.


What is Our Mission?

In this chapter Drucker points out that an effective mission statement is short and focused. He says it should fit on a T-shirt. The mission says why you do what you do, but not the means by which you do it. In essence everything you do should be guided by your mission statement. Every decision the organization makes will fit with the mission statement. Drucker says to arrive at an effective mission, you have to work out an exacting match of your opportunities, competence, and commitment. Every good mission statement will reflect these three. In addition your mission will provide guidance, not just about what to do, but equally what not to do.

Who is Our Customer?

The first thing you must do to answer this question is pin point your target customers and define them. This definition will affect everything from the design of the product, its features, the choice of distribution outlets, the crafting of your messages, choice of media, and setting of the prices.

What is Our Plan?

Drucker says when making your goals if you have more than five goals, you have none. You’re spreading yourself too thin. Goals make it absolutely clear where resources will be concentrated for results. Goals flow from the Mission. The book gives an example of the vision, mission, and goals for an art museum. Vision: A city where the world’s diverse artistic heritage is prized and whose people seek our art to feed their mind and spirit. Mission: To bring art and people together. Goal 1: To conserve and inspire partnerships to seek and acquire exceptional objects. Goal 2: To enable people to discover, enjoy, and understand art through popular and scholarly exhibitions, community education, and publications. Goal 3: To significantly expand the museum’s audience and strengthen its impact with new and traditional members. Goal 4: To maintain state-of-the-art facilities, technologies, and operations. Goal 5: To enhance long-term financial security.

The Five Elements of Effective Plans:

1. Abandonment: The first decision is whether to abandon what does not work, what has never worked – the things that have outlived their usefulness and their capacity to contribute. 2. Concentration: Concentration is building on success, strengthening what does work. 3. Innovation: You must also look for tomorrow’s success, the true innovations, the diversity that stirs the imagination. What are the opportunities, the new conditions, the emerging issues? Do they fit you? 4. Risk Taking: Planning always involves decisions on where to take the risks. 5. Analysis: Finally, in planning it is important to recognize when you do not know, when you are not yet sure whether to abandon, concentrate, go into something new, or take a particular risk.

Build Understanding and ownership: The plan begins with a mission. It ends with action steps and a budget. Action steps establish accountability for objectives – who will do what by when – and the budget commits the resources necessary to implement the plan.

Never Really Be Satisfied: True self-assessment is never finished. Leadership requires constant resharpening, refocusing, never really being satisfied. I encourage you especially to keep asking the question, What do we want to be remembered for? It is a question that induces you to renew yourself – and the organization – because it pushes you to see what you can become.

Final Thoughts of a Wannabe Farmer

This book did not disappoint. It’s not a long book, about 150 pages including the workbook, but it covers a lot. And best of all it gives the reader a framework to work from when developing a business plan and identity for their business. These questions seem like obvious questions, yet many businesses never ask them. Every book I’ve read on business management has suggested some variation of these five questions to be answered and written down. The more I learn about business planning and management the easier it is to understand why it works. It’s time tested, and the fundamentals are the fundamentals not by accident. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when we have great guides like this.

Buy the book via Amazon by clicking HERE (It’s an affiliate link so I get a little kickback if you buy. Thanks!)


Who is Peter Drucker? 


  1. gabrieldye

    As a former business owner (with an emphasis on ‘former’), I wish I’d educated myself before starting. Especially with the question, “Who is our customer?” Seemingly obvious, but not at all. Without really thinking about it, we were aiming for everyone, and because of that, reached very few.
    Another great review. *Tips hat*

  2. Author

    I think the obvious things are too often the crucial points that get overlooked in a lot of life’s ventures. Thus, the saying, “It’s the little things that count.” Thanks for commenting and sharing your story. I have a feeling you’re on to bigger and better things now though.

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