Asking the right questions

The February Big Question on the Learning Circuits Blog is "What questions should we be asking?" Fortunately Tony has provided some helpful context (here and here) to this Big Question that gives me a way to respond. Asking the right question depends on what time it is.

What if we have been asking useful questions all along when our client tell us we should be more valuable? That's a time to ask about our client's value constructs: What makes more of a difference to you? How do you decide whether this is useful to you? Which criteria helps you choose between these options?

What if we are afraid of asking a wrong, dumb or offensive question? That's a time to ask about our critic's dividing lines: Where do you draw the line between acceptable and offensive questions? How do you decide that you've heard enough mistaken impressions? What lets you know that we've crossed the line into stupidity?

What if we're inundated with grand, philosophical questions and are feeling the need for more pragmatic and actionable questions? It's time to ask about any heuristics put to use: What do you do to handle a situation like this? How would you respond to these unintended consequences? How do you sort out the conflicting evidence to formulate a viable strategy that gets results?

What if we are mystified by the reactions we're getting? It's time to ask about the others' perceptions: What are you seeing in what's been said recently? How do you interpret the misgivings that have been expressed? What's your theory to explain how this backlash is getting provoked?

What if the same nightmare is repeating endlessly? That's a time to ask about restoring balance? How is that compensating for what I'm doing? What's so extreme about my approach that summons that opposition? How am I asking for that flak by my own one-sided approach?

What if we're explaining things clearly but the others aren't learning it? That's a time to ask about their freedom: What permission do the other's need to deviate from conformity? How can the others be given more choices? What will provide the others with more territory to explore or room to maneuver?

What if everything turns into an argument, battle or hassle? It's time to ask about taking sides? What is not understood about the position you are in? How does this threaten, limit or oppose your intentions? How can others take your side, lend a hand or back you up on this?

In short, different times call for different questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment