Alignment & Innovation Through Inquiry: The Creative Power of Questions
Every creative initiative requires an establishment of clarity; an alignment of strategy, needs, and desires with innovation and the means to deliver successful outcomes. Most of us are familiar with the terms, due diligence, discovery or, other introductory exchanges. In every case, this work is "framed" by asking questions; hopefully the right ones!
This business of asking appreciative questions frequently gets lost in check lists or pro forma questions that reveal important inputs to start a project, but the real power of finding the best stuff; real differentiation in new, innovative ways isn't applied. So we seek to raise the bar on the art and science of inquiry.
"The important and difficult job is not to find the right answer; it is to find the right question." - Peter Drucker (widely recognized as the "father" of management theory)
Organizations frequently hold group sessions for brainstorming solutions to problems or in open ideation. These sessions typically elicit answers that are relevant to the subject matter, but often don't yield breakthrough ideas. We encourage an alternative to brainstorming: QuestionStorming.
In questionstorming, collaborative time is invested in ideating many questions focused around a problem, situation or opportunity. The objective is to challenge participants to develop and, then, refine a list of questions in seeking the most insightful perspectives for follow up. This process often reveals hidden problems and opportunities that would likely have been missed. Diversity among the group; meaning a diversity of life and business experience that is unique to each person, fuels the creativity and breadth of the work.
Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center, and author of, The Innovator's DNA, speaks of rediscovering a child-like curiosity about the world; taking on the endless cycle of "whys". Asking probing, provocative questions is the root foundation of innovation.
Within the context of Gregersen's book, DNA is code for, "Discovering New Associations". Big ideas, breakthroughs are often associated with discovering new associations; think of a chef who discovers a new ingredient in some part of the world and then combines it with an existing recipe that becomes a best seller. Finding new associations among your assets and across their networks is a wonderful reward for time spent in finding the right questions.
Journalist and innovation expert, Warren Berger, echos the notion of encouraging child-like curiosity, and takes a deep dive into finding imaginative, "beautiful" questions. His book, "A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas", is a wonderful resource for those seeking growth or mastery in the discipline of inquiry.
A relevant (short) video by Warren Berger may be found at https://youtu.be/5ALlGU2GYbk
So, we raise our glass to new ways of thinking. It's simple in theory; a bit more difficult in practice, but worth the effort. Begin with...
How might we...?
What would that look like?
Why, Why, Why, Why, Why?