Friday, April 8, 2016

Three Question to assess a Person’s “Inquisitiveness”

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom"    -Francis Bacon

The world is transforming from personal computing into digital computing, from globalization into globality, from knowledge limitation to information abundance, the answer about yesterday is not as critical as the questions about the future. How to ask the right questions is not only just the raw intelligence to reflect human’s intellectual curiosity, it becomes the new skills need to be sharpened and focused on, to frame and co-solve the common problems and co-create the better world. So how to assess a person’s inquisitiveness and the wisdom of questioning?

Can you often ask good questions? There is no such thing as a stupid question, although almost all serious digital professionals today understand the importance of asking the right question, it takes both courage and humility for them to ask questions, and it takes both insight and wisdom to ask the great questions; many times, 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 questions is a non-offending 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.

What is the art of questioning? The good question is usually open and thought-provoking. The good question brings multifaceted perspectives. Like a piece of art, the great question is beautiful and insightful, connect the dots to spark the imagination. 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. Either the big "WHY" question to diagnose the root cause or the witty "WHY NOT" question to provoke innovation. Either the straight "WHAT" question to put the emphasis or the logical "HOW" question to reach the detail, a good question is a halfway of problem-solving, a fine-tuned question stimulates energy, a great question inspires imagination and creativity. And a set of excellent questions themselves is perhaps like a poem, both philosophical and intellectual. Albert Einstein’s quote: “We can’t solve the problem with the same thinking we used when we created them.” The art of question is also much more about open communications, we all desire to seek and participate conversations, it’s the part of human nature, and the whole world can engage in a big conversation to change for the better through social networking, the art of question is open and thought-provoking, creative and beautiful.

What is the science of questioning? The science of questioning is about asking the right question at the right time with the right person for the right information. Ask the right question by using business vocabulary if possible. Too often, when asking questions, you tend to assume that the people who are answering actually understand your language. Many times, that is not the case and leads to a misalignment between "what you need" vs. "what you get."  The Socratic dialogue that helps people reaches their own conclusions about what can be done to improve a plan or project, which, of course, leads to much more ownership and learning. 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. The robust questions in a way help us to "dispassionately" examine alternatives, it’s a synthetic process to stimulate the whole brain thinking,  it is also based on the art of listening, it’s the attitude, the trust, it’s the soft science of communication embedded with the hard science of problem-solving capability. One of the best practices to scientifically 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.

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. Digital professionals today need to become more inquisitive to ask great questions. More often, to deal with today’s ambiguity and complexity, framing a good question is more difficult than answering them technically, and a good question is both art and science.


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