Focus on a problem or challenge of your choosing. List 4 questions…

Question Focus on a problem or challenge of your choosing. List 4 questions… Focus on a problem or challenge of your choosing. List 4 questions about this challenge. For each question, change the wording at least twice to develop two additional questions. Submit your twelve questions, the 4 questions you chose for this activity, then the two changes for each of the questions. Do for each of the 4 questions. Add a paragraph of your thoughts on this process.  Thinking Tool #6 – QuestionStorming From The Innovators DNA, J. Dyer, H. Gregersen, & C. M. Christenson (2011) Innovators not only ask provocative questions, but constantly work at asking better ones. For example, Michael Dell says that if he had a favorite question to ask, everyone would anticipate it, which wouldn’t make it very good. “Instead, I like to ask people things that they don’t think that I’m going to ask them,” he told us. “I kind of delight in coming up with questions that nobody has the answer to quite yet.” To consistently craft better questions, here are a few of our favorite tips. Tip #1: Engage in QuestionStorming A few years ago, we stumbled across an incredibly valuable questioning tool. We were teaching a graduate business school class and found ourselves stuck on a particular problem, unable to find any further insight through a typical brainstorming process. One of us suggested taking a time-out from the process and focusing our collective energies on only asking questions about the problem, instead of trying to construct another set of solutions. Much to our surprise, the questions-only approach dug much deeper into the fundamental elements of the challenge and opened everyone’s eyes to a new understanding of the problem. Since that first questions-only exercise, we have worked with individual executives and teams of executives over the years to develop a process we now call QuestionStorming. We all know about brainstorming, a process in which you get together as a team and brainstorm solutions to a problem. QuestionStorming is similar, but instead of focusing on solutions, you brainstorm questions about the problem. Here’s how it works. First, as an individual or team, identify a personal, work unit, or organizational problem or challenge to solve. Then write down at least fifty questions about that problem or challenge. (If you’re dealing with a work unit or organizational problem, it is preferable to generate these questions with a team and write all of the questions on a white board for everyone to see.) We suggest a couple of extra rules when doing this as a team: 1. Generate only one question at a time. Have one person write the questions down so that everyone can see and reflect on each question being asked. No one can ask a new question until the last one is completely written down. This helps the group build on prior questions to generate better queries about the challenge. 2. Prod each other to ask a full range of what is, what caused, why and why not, and what if questions during the exercise. It’s important to follow some other rules.   3. When capturing the questions, discipline yourself or your team to simply ask the question without offering a long preamble as a setup. 4. Ruthlessly facilitate the focus on questioning until you have at least fifty questions (in other words, don’t tolerate answers; simply reinforce the importance of only asking questions about the problem or opportunity). After a possible stretch of initial silence (as your team might struggle to formulate new questions about the issue), most teams engage in an even deeper inquiry about the real root causes of the problem or dimensions of an opportunity to see them in a new light. After listing the questions, prioritize and discuss the most important or intriguing ones in your search for better solutions. You may want to assign an individual or team to attempt to answer the most important questions before having the group brainstorm solutions. We have found that individuals who frequently engage in personal QuestionStorming about challenges facing their work unit, organization, industry, customers, suppliers, and so on are thinkers. One executive in a large pharmaceutical company started writing down questions for fifteen to twenty minutes each morning before work. Three months later, his boss told him that he had become the best strategic thinker in his business unit. Six months later, he was promoted. Practice does make perfect, or at least better when it comes to questioning. So if your “questioning muscles have atrophied,” as Ahmet Bozer (Eurasia and Africa Group president at Coca-Cola) recognized after a recent QuestionStorming workshop with his senior team, “it’s time to start exercising those muscles.” Tip #2: Cultivate question thinking When identifying problems or challenges, we often describe them as statements. In fact, we often ask groups of executives to identify their top-three challenges. As they wrestle with the task and identify these challenges, they typically frame them as statements. We then give the group an additional five to ten minutes to reformulate their top-three challenges into their top-three questions. We have found that actively translating statements into questions not only helps sharpen problem statements, but also evokes more personal responsibility for the problems and moves them to take more active next steps in the pursuit of answers. Tip #3: Track your Q/A ratio Disruptive innovators we interviewed consistently displayed a high Q/A ratio, where questions (Q) not only outnumbered answers (A) in a typical interaction, but good questions generated greater value than good answers. To check your current QI A ratio, observe and assess your questioning and answering patterns in a variety of contexts. For example, in the last meeting you attended, what present of your comments were questions? Also ask yourself, “What are the questions that aren’t obvious or aren’t being asked?”  Change the words—Change the label From: von Oech, R. (2008) A whack on the side of the head. (25th ann. ed.). New York. Hachette Book Group USA. Inventor Ray Dolby (the man who took “hiss” out of recorded music) has a similar philosophy. He says: Inventing is a skill that some people have and some people don’t. But you can learn how to invent. You have to have the will not to jump at the first solution, because the really elegant solution might be right around the corner. An inventor is someone who says, “Yes, that’s one way to do it, but it doesn’t seem to be an optimum solution.” Then he keeps on thinking. When you look for more than one right answer, you allow your imagination to open. One technique for finding more answers is to change the wording in your questions. If an architect looks at an opening between two rooms and thinks, “What type of door should I use to connect these rooms?” that’s what she’ll design – a door. But if she thinks, “What sort of passageway should I put here?” she may design something different like a “hallway,” a “tunnel,” or perhaps a “courtyard.” Different words bring in different assumptions and lead your thinking in different directions.      Social Science Psychology EPSY 645 Share QuestionEmailCopy link Comments (0)

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