Brain power

Why the right questions matter as much as the right answers

Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.

While we so often seem to cherish those who have all of the answers, Columbia Business School’s Christopher Frank, Oded Netzer, and Paul F. Magnone remind us in their latest book Decisions Over Decimals that an inquisitive team is vital in any organization.

“Building an inquisitive culture involves a combination of what and how”, they explain. “The what is a combination of the types of questions [factual questions, convergent questions, divergent questions, and evaluative questions] and the how is the environment you create.”

They outline three steps that are crucial to creating an environment and culture that encourages team members to be inquisitive and ask great questions:

  1. Start with open-ended questions – as open-ended questions help to give us a much wider perspective on matters and signal an intent to learn rather than conclude. They tell people that we are starting from a position of general ignorance and wish to learn.
  2. Respond, don’t react – the phrase active listening is reasonably well understood today, and involves paying attention to both the nonverbal actions as well as the words of our colleagues. We then provide feedback to improve our mutual understanding. To do this well requires us to be silent when the other person is talking and then to respond rather than react.
  3. Ask a stream of questions – the authors highlight how the ability to ask questions is often underrated, yet good questions are vital to help us frame an issue, remove ambiguity, reduce risk, and expose gaps. By becoming comfortable with the four types of questions mentioned above, we get better at asking really good questions.

“The smartest person in the room is not the one with an answer, but the person asking the best questions,” the authors explain. “That is the irony. If you seek bolder recommendations, ask better questions. Answers come from the discovery journey.”

We often devote considerable time and energy to coming up with better answers, but the authors remind us that it’s worth spending an equal amount of time and energy ensuring that we’re better at asking really good questions.

Article source: Why The Right Questions Matter As Much As The Right Answers.

5/5 - (2 votes)

Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organizing systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and enjoy exploring the edge of organizational behavior. I specialize in finding the many great things that are happening in the world, and helping organizations apply these changes to their own environments. I also blog for some of the biggest sites in the industry, including Forbes, Social Business News, Social Media Today and, whilst also covering the latest trends in the social business world on my own website. I have also delivered talks on the subject for the likes of the NUJ, the Guardian, Stevenage Bioscience and CMI, whilst also appearing on shows such as BBC Radio 5 Live and Calgary Today.

Related Articles

Back to top button