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To Be a Better Leader, Ask Better Questions
May 9, 2019 | WSJ | By Hal Gregersen. Dr. Gregersen is executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and author of “Questions Are the Answer.”

1. Understand what kinds of questions spark creative thinking. The best questions really knock down barriers to creative thinking and channel energy down new, more productive pathways. A question that does has five traits. It reframes the problem. It intrigues the imagination. It invites others’ thinking. It opens up space for different answers. And it’s nonaggressive—not posed to embarrass, humiliate or assert power over the other party. Ask employees: “What are you wrestling with and how can I help?” Ask customers and supply-chain partners: “If you were in my shoes, what would you be doing differently than what you see us doing today?”
2. Create the habit of asking questions. in the early stages of building your questioning capacity, it’s helpful to start by copying other people’s questions. It’s the equivalent of practicing your scales. Once you’ve got the scales down, you can start to improvise..... management thinker Peter Drucker, liked to jump-start strategic thinking by asking: “What changes have recently happened that don’t fit ‘what everyone knows’ ”?

Another example: A leader in a consumer packaged-goods company constantly asks: “What more can we do to delight the customer at the point of purchase? And what more to delight them at the point of consumption?”......builds the habit of thinking in questions, which, in turn, leads to daily inquiry about matters large and small, and an organization that keeps pushing its competitive advantages forward.
3. Fuel that habit by making yourself generate new questions...... generate new and better questions, not to cap your questioning career at the level of playing flawless scales.
4. Respond with the power of the pause. When someone comes to you with a problem, don’t immediately respond with an answer. ........Instead, make it your habit to respond with a question—ideally one that reframes the problem, but at least one that draws out more of your colleague’s thoughts on the matter. ....not talking about the cop-out rejoinder of, “Well, what do YOU think we should do?” Help the person think through how the decision should be made, with questions like: “What are we optimizing for?” “What’s the most important thing we have to achieve with whatever direction we take?” Or: “What makes this decision so hard? What problem felt like this in the past?” You'll be teaching your colleagues the value of pausing to get the question right before rushing to the answer. And nine times out of 10, you’re going to wind up with a better answer than the one you would have blurted out with less deliberation.
5. Brainstorm for questions. Whenever you/ your team finds itself at an impasse, or there is a sense that some insight is eluding you regarding a problem or opportunity, just stop and spend four minutes generating nothing but questions about it--question bursts. Don’t spend a second answering the questions, or explaining why you posed a certain one. As in brainstorming, go for high volume and do no editing in progress. See if you can generate at least 15-20.
6. Reward your questioners. Bosses should reconceive what their primary job is. They aren’t there to come up with today’s best answers, or even just to get their teams to come up with them. Their job is to build their organization’s capacity for constant innovation.
Their enterprise’s future—and their own career trajectory—depends on their resolve to ask better questions.
books  brainstorming  creativity  creative_thinking  follow-up_questions  habits  imagination  innovation  leaders  nonaggressive  organizational_capacity  Peter_Drucker  Philip_Mudd  power_of_the_pause  problem_definition  problem_framing  questions  strategic_thinking 
may 2019 by jerryking
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