Recently, I keep finding myself going back all the time to ‘the art of questioning’, as something being at the core of good management and leadership. This is perhaps influenced by so many instances in which I have found myself under the tyranny of poor critical thinking. This has been perhaps absent in some client interactions. The rush for ‘answers’ and ‘closure’ has led to very bad decisions.
Questioning is powerful, potentially disruptive, and healthy. It’s the behaviour behind curiosity, and curiosity is the state of mind behind innovation. Questions can be superficial or deep. The superficial ones come associated with a quick and comfortable answer. These are poor questions.
In the art of questioning, discomfort correlates with success. The perfect question has no good answer. The pursue of perfect questions is not a masochistic affair but a discipline that leads to a better understanding of the world. Unrelenting curiosity will lead to the art of questioning leading itself to ‘delivering the goods’.
In the last couple of years I have designed two large scale leadership and change programmes based entirely upon ‘questions’: ‘the 10 questions people ask here’, for example , has led to a much better and more agile culture. Its simplicity is very powerful. A ‘Copernican Revolution’, a client has called it, in contrast to super-complex models of leadership and change leading only to intellectual tourism.
Questions and questioning are at the core of leadership. This art of questioning can be mastered. It’s praxis, it’s about exercising in the mind gym.
Never underestimate the power of a good set of questions. These may be all you need, form strategy to implementation, to perform in solid grounds.
This reminds me of the famous quote from Isaac Asimov:
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I have found it!) but ‘That’s funny…’
The good doctor was referring to creative discovery in science, but I think it applies equally well to any sort of creative problem solving or design. Look for good questions — the answers will come.