Ask High-Value Questions

Albert_Einstein_%28Nobel%29

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first fifty five minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

— Albert Einstein

Among the 12 Manners of Voicing, asking questions is, from my experience, the most productive of learning and innovation. I have started to illustrate asking high-value questions in a prior blog post (“Personal Learning History”).

Last March 28, 2007 I was invited to be a reactor to several paper presenters in the “National Conference on Improving Competitiveness through Science & Technology Human Resource Development.” It was sponsored by the Science Education Institute of the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippine government.

As reactor I was expected to comment on the papers presented: expand on ideas I agree with, criticize ideas I don’t agree with, etc. I decided to completely change my approach. I decided not to provide answers. Instead my “reaction” was a series of questions:

  1. Provocative questions
  2. Mind-opening questions
  3. Assumption-exposing questions
  4. Mental model-challenging questions
  5. Bias-awareness questions
  6. Blindfolds-discovering questions
  7. Discovering-what-we-don’t-know questions
  8. Attention-shifting questions
  9. Market opportunities-attentive questions
  10. Reframing questions.

You can read my short (only 5 substantive slides) presentation by holding “Ctrl” and left-clicking HERE to view my presentation in a new tab.

Learn to ask high-value questions. I call them “high-value” questions because they can lead to answers that are high-value knowledge, for example:

  1. Delighting customers instead of just satisfying them, and thereby converting customers to willing and eager salespersons convincing their friends to buy your product.
  2. Changing how we see reality: this is why “reframing” questions are very powerful. For example, if we change how we view the market then it may enable us to see new market opportunities that we hardly saw before. This can lead to —
  3. Challenging and changing the assumptions behind our business model, resulting in a better or new business model that can revive a losing business or radically outstrip all competition or lead to an entirely new and successful business venture with its own niche!

Cheers!

Note that there are embedded links in this blog post. They show up as colored text. While pressing “Ctrl” click on any link to create a new tab to reach the webpages pointed to. Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the use of the image in this post.

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