Change the Question

“Quality questions create a quality life.”  – Anthony Robbins

What kinds of questions are you or others asking around the office? Are they deficit or problem focused? Do you find yourself or others constantly trying to “fix” problems? If the questions we ask are focused on the problem, then there will always be a tendency to see more problems.

Instead of focusing on problems, what if you gave yourself, your team, your organization the freedom to imagine what an ideal future looks like? In shifting to take this approach, barriers and limiting beliefs can be removed, which often constrain imagination and artificially limit what people think may be possible.

A few questions to consider asking next time you have the opportunity to bring your team together are:

  • What do we want more of?
  • What would an ideal future look like?
  • In one year from now if [fill in the blank] were thriving, what would that look and feel like, what results would we be generating

Change the Conversation

“Organizations and people move in the direction of what they study, ask questions about, inquire into, and explore with curiosity.”  – The Power of Appreciative Inquiry

I was recently on a training call where the instructor made a very impactful statement, along the lines of:

“The culture or DNA of an organization is embedded in the conversations they have.”

So, if conversations essentially create our worlds, then it stands to reason that the types of conversations we have are immensely important. What kinds of conversations are you, your team and your organization having?

Our conversations will often be a product of the questions we ask. By changing the questions, we can no doubt influence a shift in the conversations taking place. Instead of asking problem and deficit based questions, which focus the dialogue on how to “fix an issue”, a new question generates a new conversation, which creates the environment for a completely different dialogue.

No longer are we trying to “just fix something.” At best, this would only move us to a neutral state, otherwise called “as good” or “equal”. After all, when measuring up against competitors and industry peers, who wants that!?

Now the conversations can be focused on “what might be possible” if we leveraged strengths and strive for excellence. Conversations framed through this lens now allow for greater imagination, creativity and engagement. It also positions you to surpass your competitors, achieve differentiation and potentially a competitive advantage.

A few different ways to frame conversations through a positive, strength based lens are:

  • How might we…?
  • Where are our strengths and what are we doing really well…?
  • Work to uncover and amplify moments of excellence that are occurring within the organization  
  • What are stakeholders asking for…?

Change the Outcome

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”  – Wayne Dyer

How can simply changing the question influence our conversations and ultimately deliver a different, more powerful outcome?  

The businesses we operate, the organizations we belong to and the teams we lead are ultimately comprised of living, thinking, breathing human beings. In order to thrive and feel valued, human beings crave a connection to purpose in the work they do. This connection to purpose is becoming even more important as the demographics of our work environments change and new generations with different values become majority stakeholders. A recent Forbes article on The Rise Of The Millennial reported that “for the first time in over 100 years, young people are prioritizing passion over money and other benefits when it comes to work.”

By changing our questions, the conversations taking place have the opportunity to evolve and create not only more powerful outcomes, but a deeper connection between personnel and the organization’s high purpose identity. By strengthening this bond, there will be much greater alignment between the individuals and the organizational mission they are depended on to support.

In short, their Inspiration and engagement will reach new levels.

Here’s two examples to consider, which both demonstrate how asking a different question can create a different conversation and a more powerful outcome. In addition, those involved in supporting the initiative will aslo be more connected to delivering a successful outcome.

  • What if instead of asking “how do we fix our lost baggage problem?” an airline asked “how do we create an exceptional arrival experience for our travelers?”
  • What if instead of asking “how do we land a human on the moon?” a space technology company asked “how do we achieve millions of people living and working in space?

Just imagine the outcomes!

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