Courtesy of Life Hacks
Do you know what’s the best way to generate great ideas? Or find the solutions to that nagging problem?
Simple. Start by asking the right questions.
Since time immemorial, man has always thirsted for answers to deep and philosophical questions. What is the meaning of life? Why do bad things happen to good people?
A good question is a great catalyst for innovation. Skillfully executed, it can stimulate our creativity, trigger our imagination, and motivate us to work towards a satisfying outcome.
We’re also more inclined to respond positively to a request for help then a directive to “Do it like this or else!” This is especially true when working with younger workers belonging to Generation Y or the Millennial Generation.
How then should we manage using questions? Here are some ideas to begin with.
First, make sure that the setting is right for collaborative problem solving. You are not the Spanish Inquisition nor Sherlock Holmes trying to nail down a culprit.
Create a friendly and informal environment where everybody and anybody can ask questions. Strip away any designation, rank or title. We’re all equals in this.
Next, be sure to get the basics right. In other words, the 5Ws – who, what, when, where, why – and the 1 H – how.
Without the facts, we’re all groping about in the dark. Now that isn’t a good place to start.
If necessary, don’t hesitate to probe more deeply through detailed questioning. The world famous auto maker Toyota is well known for its 5 Whys method of discerning the real reason behind any decision. Doing so allows them to drill down to what truly matters.
Nudge all team members to participate in the exercise. Don’t let the quiet ones simmer and stew while giving the stage to the vocal folks.
Often, still water runs deep. You’ll be surprised at the level of insight which your more introverted colleagues are capable of.
Try not to judge the quality of the questions or the answers – at least not during the initial stages. You can do so collectively after everybody has given their inputs and the outcomes are agreed upon by consensus.
If necessary, do not be afraid of polling a wider group outside your team. Invite colleagues from other divisions to participate in the session.
When doing so, remember to cast all defensiveness aside. We are here to find answers, not poke holes at each other!
Where possible, you should even ask your customers to ask you all the burning questions in their minds. You’ll often be surprised (and enlightened) by what their true concerns are.
What’s more, there is a huge incentive in answering your customers questions well. Ye$$$?
Ensure that you facilitate the session effectively and efficiently using tools and props like markers, post it pads, whiteboards, and so on. While we do want to keep the questions – and answers – flowing, we do not want the session to degenerate into mass chaos.
Finally, and most importantly, do provide your fair share of answers too. Nothing irks a team of people more than a manager who simple barrels away with non-stop questions without attempting to provide some solutions.
What are your thoughts on this? Does this blog post answer your questions? 🙂