Peter Drucker said “most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.”
When Kevin and I watch NCIS, we make guesses as to who the murderer is every time. When we get it right, we’re usually asking the better questions based on subtleties of behavior, nuance, and close observation. Though it’s contrived on TV, the information is always there.
It’s the same while leading in business and life. Asking the right questions as stated above is something worth learning to slow down for and practice. Becoming disciplined with your thinking is the key to asking better questions. Here’s some food for thought:
- Create a question that’s been unasked – what will result in greater clarity and offer better choices?
- Find the root cause and separate it from the symptoms – what’s the common denominator, the real obstacle causing friction?
- Check your assumptions – separate the facts from your story (hint: facts are things you can see, touch, taste, feel or hear. Everything else is a story).
- Do your pros and cons list – what’s the cost of being wrong? What’s the benefit of being right?
- Turn the problem into an opportunity – reframe it to what it’s offering you, not what’s wrong.
- Envision solution(s) – what resources, people, time, experience do you need to solve this once and for all?
Remember to ask questions that will:
- Provide clear insight on what the actual problem is
- Simplify the problem to make it solvable
- Expand the number of possible solutions or improvements to the problem