THE QUALITY OF HOW WE MAKE DECISIONS, pursue opportunities, solve problems and develop new ideas is based on the quality of the questions we ask.
That all makes sense, but remember the child told to do the right thing, the student to get the right answer or the business leader to produce the right result – it’s no wonder why asking good questions is hard in a world that doesn’t reward not knowing.
A hundred years ago when an employee worked on an assembly line, an inquisitive mind was not part of their job description. In today’s age of innovation, the currency is creativity and the flow of work flies on the back of collaboration and new ideas. Asking good questions are the precursor to innovation.
Great questions are simple, clear and thought provoking. They generate energy and focus inquires. They surface assumptions and open up new possibilities.
This reminds me of a story about Billy Joel. He is taking questions from a group of Vanderbilt university students. A young man raises his hand and says “I’ve had the great fortune of playing the piano for a few talented singers. My favorite song is yours is New York State of Mind.. I was wondering if I could accompany you on the piano while you sing that song.” The audience goes wild in shock and awe as they fixate on Joel’s face for an answer. “Ok”, he says, and in a few minutes this unknown kid is playing with his idol, and over 2 million people later get to witness this example of what can happen when a simple question, asked with great courage, can create.
I believe that marriages, friendships, teams, departments and companies grow and die one conversation at a time. Certainly, a good ingredient to a healthy conversation is a great question. We must remember that most people have the wisdom and creativity to confront even the most difficult question.