Are you Asking the Right Questions?

Category: Strategy Published on Jul 13 2016

I attended an interesting Association for Talent Development (ATD) meeting on brainstorming. As part of the presentation, we were asked to participate in a mini brainstorming session around the subject of topics that would draw members and prospective members. We were instructed to write a question that if we answered it would really hammer home the objective.

At my table, we talked about what members and prospective members were looking for when they attend ATD meetings. While we were discussing what motivated members to part with their time and money in exchange for a learning opportunity, the questions were being phrased from the perspective of the association.


I suggested that while the intent of the question was good, that it needed to be reframed. We were not asking the right question. Not because we as a group were off target, but because we were not addressing it in the correct perspective. This slight change of perspective altered the question and the answers it provided.


As you work on your business, how sure are you that you are asking the right questions? What other perspectives could you use to ask the question?


 - Can you ask it the opposite way? (ie instead of ‘How can we fix this?’ ask ‘How can we keep this from happening again?’) Or it can be enlightening just to explore the opposite: ‘What would we do if we wanted this to happen again?’ 

 - Could you ask it from someone else’s perspective? (‘What can I do to succeed?’ vs. ‘What would success look like to my customer?’)

 - Can you adjust the question parameters? (‘What would we do if we had all the money/time in the world to throw at this challenge?’ or ‘What would we do if we only had $20 to spend?’)

 - Can you choose a more positive perspective? (‘What went wrong?’ vs. ‘What went right?’)


As you work on challenges that arise in your business, one of the best ways to be sure you are asking the right questions is to ask more than one question. Think about how you can reframe the question, and then try to ask it in at least 3 other ways.


When you get the right questions, you’ll be surprised how quickly you find the right answers.