Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Leading by Questioning

The art of questioning is to ignite innovative thinking; the science of questioning is to frame Systems thinking, with the progressive pursuit of better solutions.

We’ve been living in such a dynamic world, change is the only constant, actually even change itself has been changed and expedited. There is information abundant and even overloading, but problems solving does not become easier, but turns to be harder. And first things first, you should ask yourself: Do you frame the right questions before answering them right. It takes courage and humility to ask, because you have to break down the status quo and break through the conventional wisdom, to keep informative and inquisitive, always to challenge and ensure that the question itself is corrected before answering…

Asking the right questions helps validate how thorough and deep your team's thinking is on a particular issue: it can also assess whether they consider various different perspectives. It's always about the questions, particularly to get your team to come up with their own answers to solve a problem or address an issue. By doing so, you've led them to easily buy-in on the direction to follow. The leader simply coaches the team along the way, including asking more questions as necessary.

Asking questions is a nonoffending way of making the point not only understanding the point of view of another side. It can be used in multiple social interactions. The key point is to use the right questions to slow down the analysis and decision-making processes sufficiently to acquire all the necessary information to make a correct decision. There is a strategic value of understanding businesses and being able to ask the open-ended questions that evoke a response to enlighten or illustrate a specific issue or topic. If you do not understand their frame of reference, formulating the questions or understanding the context of the response becomes meaningless. One of the best practices to questioning is to ask Five "Why" to get to the root cause of any matter. It helps to dig in further and discover true causes or needs.

"Asking questions culture and mentality" has to be driven by leadership - In reality, culture eats strategy for breakfast, people follow good leaders or potential leaders, and culture evolves with them, "no such things as bad questions" attitude should be ingrained in a company. If management doesn't demonstrate an honest desire to expand learning through insightful Q&A but instead uses Q&A to reinforce or validate their own position, then their teams will quickly react accordingly - stifling the opportunity to better understand the situation and deliver superior outcomes.

The art of questioning is to ignite innovative thinking, the essential to questioning also stimulates the creative sides of our brains in order to find answers. The science of questioning is about asking the right question at the right time to the right person for the right information, it is also based on the art of listening, it’s the attitude, the trust, it’s the soft science of communication embedded with hard science of problem-solving capability. The science of questions is also about fact finding, the analysis, the structured thinking, the objective evaluation and comparison, the progressive pursuit of better solutions, it’s human’s cognitive improvement.


Great article Pearl!

Regarding the comment, "One of the best practices to questioning is to ask Five "Why" to get to the root cause of any matter. It helps to dig in further and discover true causes or needs,"

I would agree but add that you are careful in expecting the "why" answer to be vision driven. Asking why gets to the reason your client gets up in the morning and works their tail off. If you are asking "why" to get to an objective answer you might miss the mark in getting the answer you're looking for.

I might suggest you've done your homework and are prepared to ask the what, where, when, and how's of the business ("What about your business makes you unique in this space? How do you prepare when bringing a product/service to market?"). This will most likely lead to objective answers that most often answer the "why", create an intelligent interaction, and give you the data needed to provide solutions to their problems.

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