Exploring with others through sincere and effective inquiry combined with deep listening for understanding are great tools to develop for working well with others. Often small or large groups of people are faced with working through what seem like insurmountable challenges.
How we ‘show up’ matters: It is worth considering that reframing the situation into many possibilities and opportunities rather than insurmountable challenges is a potentially more proactive platform to be working from.
I do believe that we are in charge of our own perspectives and that any group of people is in charge of their own perspectives. And that our perspectives influence how we navigate opportunity or, as some may see it – insurmountable challenges.
Further, I believe that the questions we ask can be powerful in setting a ‘frame’ for our thinking and actions. Great questions are valuable for the person who asks them – if that person is ready to listen deeply and consider what is shared. Great questions are valuable to those who take them seriously by pondering and responding to them.
Michael J. Marquardt puts it this way: “Great questions cause the questioner to become more aware of the need for change and to be more open and willing to change. The questions themselves may actually cause the leader to become a change catalyst. The leader who leads with questions will more likely champion new ideas heard and developed in the course of inquiry. New ideas and perspectives enable the leader to make strong arguments for advocating change.” Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask, Revised and Updated, 2014, pages 42-43.
Marquardt also states that: “A questioning culture strengthens individual and organizational learning; it improves decision making, problem solving, and teamwork; promotes adaptability and acceptance of change; and helps empower people by strengthening self-awareness and self-confidence.” page 6
These are the kinds of questions that may have the power to help a leader or participant of a group to deepen and improve the culture and quality of thinking and work:
If you were to overhear an honest conversation about this intuitive 30 months from now – what would your highest hopes be for what you would hear? What do you believe you would actually hear, given the current trajectory of the project?
How would describe the way you want this project to turn out?
What resources might we tap into that we haven’t used before or not using currently?
What crucial or vital behaviors can we target that seem to provide the greatest leverage for dramatically advance our goal?
How can this team become more efficient and productive while also supporting its members in the pursuit?
What inspires us about this work?
What happens if . . .?
Have we ever thought of . . .? (This question and the two directly preceding it – may be good ones to go around the group and have everyone add in their ‘. . .’ and then go around again and possibly again to generate new and potentially provocative thinking)
For any of these or other such questions to have value a culture of open shared thinking must be supported and the questions must be asked with sincerity and listened to with a commitment to strive to understand and appreciate the perspective(s) being shared.