Free answers - costly questions

When we're formulating a "freemium" business model, we need to become well travelled along the boundary between abundance and scarcity. Any new abundance creates new scarcities while rendering previous scarcities as obsolete, contrived or controlling. The new abundance also heightens our appreciation of the potential value, benefits and uses of a new scarcity. We recognize how some of the new scarcity is cheap, over-priced or useless.

This morning I've been exploring how "quality questions" might become the new scarcity amidst the abundance of free content, answers, finds, resources and solutions. It initially occurred to me that there are plenty of cheap questions, throwaway questions and unrewarding questions. We don't need "consumer education" to recognize questions that create value while satisfying our love our mysteries, adventures and ongoing explorations.

I then realized that most of my best questions have dawned on me in the midst of intense thought processes. Questions seem to arise like emergent outcomes of complex adaptive systems. When I'm describing this process I say things like:
Reflecting on all those recent developments that I'm seeing suddenly gave me a new question to explore.
Changing my point of view revealed a new question I was not previously considering.
Making use of that new concept raised a whole new set of questions for me to get answered.
Comparing these alternatives uncovered many deeper questions to ponder.
When I'm saying things like this, I'm expressing a profound appreciation for quality questions. I regard them as relatively scarce compared to the abundance of further explorations. I value them as gifts, treasures and gems. The value of these questions seems genuine to me, not artificial, contrived or hyped. I'm using the questions to support processes that I trust while get me where I want to go.

I then entertained a new question: could the right kind of question change our minds? I thought of several different ways to ask the question:
  • How can challenging questions open closed minds that have adopted a stance of "no further questions your Honor"?
  • How could an insightful question shatter long-held assumptions which have denied the reality of the situation?
  • How can penetrating questions revise reasoning that has relied on "either/or" binary explanations?
  • How could several disturbing questions transform a draining vicious cycle into an energizing virtuous cycle?
I then noticed how I was framing valuable questions as challenging, insightful, penetrating and disturbing. I was setting myself up to appreciate scarce questions, discriminate between different qualities of questions, and regard the right questions for the job as inherently useful. By seeking valued outcomes from my use of questions, I was both open to benefiting from the abundance of answers and guarded against cheap, throwaway and unrewarding questions.

This seems to me like the start of a freemium business model that works with "content wanting to be free".

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