The art of asking questions to move things forward

In our previous article, we encouraged you to suggest to your team members to use open questions.

Shifting our practice of interactions with team members by using a maximum of open questions and limiting affirmations and closed questions is a transformative practice.

A quick reminder about open questions (as opposed to closed questions that are answered by yes or no): typically, they start by ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’, ‘how’… By definition, they are open to larger exploration for answers and are adapted to open discussion, to allow different views to be expressed and let team members diverge in their thinking.

Sample questions to encourage team members to give their opinion about the optimization of a process:

« What do you think of what X does to optimize Y ? »
A closed question would force a yes/no choice.
Here, we have a question requiring a binary answer. It gives an impression of being effective, asking the person to make a decision, but it does not require any specific engagement from the person answering and it does not encourage their exploration.

« How would you optimize the process Y ? »


« What possibility do you see to optimize Y ? »

If you sense your team members are too passive, that you feel obliged to bring solutions, listen to your questioning. Are your questions most often open or closed? Test open questions and observe the impact.

The Action Learning defined by WIAL elaborated a process that allows a group to use this modality to effectively address complex challenges by ensuring enough divergence before converging on the definition of the challenge and moving to solutioning.

I invite you to identify a situation where your team does not adequately tend to an internal or external client’s need and to organize a working session with this type of questioning. If necessary, do not hesitate to contact us to help you.

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