Today everyone is asking questions and looking for answers. Yet most of the time people don’t engage to hear the questions that need to be asked. Most people engage to give answers they think you need. Call centers staffed with people to give answers to the most often asked questions. What about the questions whose answers don’t fit into the FAQ’s? Who has those answers and more importantly what are those questions?
I have found that most people and organizations want answers but they can’t find the right answer because they haven’t asked the right question. Finding answers starts by asking the right question. As Einstein put it: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
Most people respond to questions with answers they think answers the question. Our brains are wired to respond to questions with our answers. After all isn’t that what we learned in school, at home and in the workplace? We are expected to have the answers because our grades depended on it, our parents expected it and work requires it. Subsequently many of us start to give answers before we understand the real question.
So What is the Right Question?
When people ask for help with something they usually are focused on solving a specific problem. Technology is helping solve problems by automating processes, engaging more people to find answers and even eliminating old problems by disrupting the solutions that were causing the problem.
Those solving the most problems today are those asking the right questions. Questions like:
- Why is there a problem?
- How was the problem created?
- Who are effected the most by the problem?
- When does the problem occur?
- Where did the problem start?
- What would happen if…?
- What are the related problems?
- Are we asking the right questions?
- Would fixing the problem create more problems?
- Is the solution a revolutionary business model
The point is today’s problems are tomorrows opportunities to create new solutions. Yesterday’s solutions will only perpetuate today’s problems. Abraham Harold Maslow said,“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
Tomorrow’s solutions come from a different set of tools being discover by those learning to think differently by asking the right questions.