The Power of Questions

The Power of Questions

Why are questions so important in business? Does it seem fitting that we introduce this new series about questions with questions? What if we told you that the best leaders tend to ask the best questions? What if we also told you that questions have never been MORE important in business due to our interconnectedness and the fast-changing environment we operate in?

Here are the show notes from this episode:

  • We brought everyone up to speed with what our previous series covered. Hint: it was some good stuff on the topic of “we’re better together”.
  • Questions used to be forbidden, now are crucial due to pace of change and VUCA world we live in
  • Why are questions sometimes (often) discouraged in business? Neurological – we’re wired to go on autopilot (John Kounios neuroscientist). Social – allowing questions cedes power. Old business paradigm – seen as “inefficient” and wasting time. (Clayton Christensen)
  • Questions unlock our sensory system and allow us to more quickly interpret our environment
  • Frank Lloyd Wright “an expert is someone who has “stopped thinking” because he knows” — highly dangerous in an ever-changing world – the organizational sensory system needs to keep active and questions trigger exploration
  • “Knowing” is increasingly happening via machines (google, IBM Watson); humans have unique capacity to ask questions
  • I’ve seen some divergent thinking proving the creativity of the power of human questions in the irrigation space as well as via the movie Night Shift
  • We operate in a fast-paced interconnected knowledge economy – not an agrarian or even purely industrial economy
  • The industrial age was built on answers and efficiency – asked questions like “how many, how much how fast”
  • The knowledge economy requires that we combine knowledge into new knowledge
  • The pace of change of the knowledge economy is mandating that questions have to change along with it – “why, what if and how”)
  • As leadership and strategy consultants, we’ve observed that the best organizations ask the best questions
  • Helping leaders ask the right questions gives them more powerful insight, direction, and clarity
  • Dave’s book, Christ-Based Leadership, stated that the organizing structure of some of the best business thinkers of our day centered on great, revealing questions
    • What is the truth of your ambition? Jim Collins asks this in Good-to Great to separate level 4 leaders from level 5 leaders in organizations that want to be great, and not just Good.
    • Are we really a team? Pat Lencioni asks in his bestselling book: “ The 5 dysfunctions of a team to help understand what great teams look like.
    • What time is it in our organizational lifecycle? Ichdak Adizes asked in his great work on Corporate Lifecycles to understand the predictable stages and leadership traps in organizations.
    • Do you play to people’s strengths so they can do their best? Marcus Buckingham asked to help supervisors bring out the best in employees in his bestselling book, First, break all the Rules.
  • These questions lead directly back to the wisdom of the Bible, because many of the answers these authors give are parallel with the teachings of the Scriptures, in their cases, on ambition, talents, seasons of life, trust and honesty with people.
  • The greatest game-changer reality for business today is the interconnection revolution, and its social offshoots that is transforming every aspect of business today. This interconnectedness has changed the best metaphor for organizations away from machines and towards the image of the human body

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