Most of us have a handful of tasks we don’t see much value in, but we “have” to do them. We often go-through-the-motions on these tasks, “pencil whipping” the paperwork, without much thought or effort.

This may be inevitable, but if we do it too often – or if too many people adopt this mindset – our organization’s culture will suffer.

Here are twelve questions to get people talking (and thinking) about how we can overcome this “check-the-box” mentality.

Regarding tasks, paperwork and forms

  • What are some things we do around here where we “go through the motions”? Maybe it’s a form we have to fill out or a task we do, but our heart isn’t into it.
  • Why is this activity such a hassle? What gets in the way of us taking it more seriously or putting more effort into it?
  • What’s the downside of doing tasks this way… what’s the risk we face if we do this too often?
  • Why was this task started in the first place? What was the intention behind it? Was there a problem someone was trying to solve? What’s your best guess as to why we started doing this?
  • If you were in charge around here, how would you solve that problem? How would you make sure folks did the right thing regarding this problem?
  • This task isn’t going away – how can we do it better? How can we make it less of a hassle, but still do it well?

Regarding meetings, trainings or reviews

  • What’s your understanding of the intention of this meeting? Why do we get together like this?
  • Generally speaking: what happens at this meeting? What do we talk about most often? Who does the most / least talking? Are there questions and conversation or is it mostly presentation?
  • How could we get more interaction and conversation during this meeting? How can we get more people more involved?
  • What happens as a result of this meeting? What do people do (or not do) because we met? If we stopped meeting, what would (or wouldn’t) happen?
  • Do we have to have this meeting? If we cancelled it, how would we accomplish the intention?
  • What’s something we could do to make this meeting more effective – to make it serve its intention better? 

Interested in learning more? Make routine activities matter? We’re ready to help. 

About the author: Andy Erickson is a founder and principal consultant at Humanus Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in people-centric leadership. He can be reached at

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