In business can the way you ask get you better results #smallbiz

As a CEO asking better questions get better insights & results

Most of us ask multiple questions in our day – but how conscious are we of the influence the questions we ask have on our outcomes. I’ve written previously about the work of Tina Seelig on the use of ‘questions’ to innovate and encourage creativity.

In that article I quoted from her book inGenius

“what is the sum of 5 plus 5? What two numbers add up to 10?”. The first question has only one right answer, and the second question has an infinite number of solutions … these two problems .. differ only in the way they are framed.”

In this example you can immediately see the power of questions and how ‘what you ask’ will influence the results you get. There perhaps couldn’t be a more compelling argument to putting some thought into the questions you ask throughout your day in the business world.

The 5 W questionsHow to start a great questions?

First thing to remember is don’t ask a question that will limit your replies to a yes/no answer or  time limited answer! Using opening words like  the following are useful but not for gains business insights. Instead it is worth opening a sentence with words that encourage deeper and more thoughtful responses – usually this would be by starting the question with

Closed ended questions Open ended questions
Do How
Can What
Will Do I
Should Are we
When Who
How long
Am I

Default questions in businessquestions questions questions

Here are some great questions that might assist you, or that may become you default approach to delving deeper

  • What’s the basis for your recommendation? How might this be wrong?
  • What don’t we know about our customers?
  • Who haven’t you talked with yet?
  • What are we taking as fact, that probably isn’t?
  • Who could give us a different view of this?

Source: Pam Vox Rollin – 5 questions the best CEOs Ask

What are you aiming for with your question?

You aim in asking the questions should always be to

  1. Create clarity for you and your team members – questions that explore the nuances of a problem or solution will expose a range of insights that will be useful in your understanding. These are usually ‘CAN’ questions.
  2. Encourage analysis and new ideas – we should never ‘rest on our laurels’. Good questions can challenge us to re-examine our thinking and the solutions we have developed, they also have the potential to inspire new ideas. These are usually ‘WHAT’ questions.
  3. Inspire reflection or a ‘new’ take on an issue – this is a slightly different approach to goal number 2 in that rather than pure analysis these ask for reflection and consideration. These are usually ‘WHY’ questions.
  4. Challenge any misconceptions or flawed assumptions, We all have our biases and preconceptions which limit our view of solutions as Tina Seelig’s work demonstrates good questions can act to call us and see the ‘error of our ways’. These are usually ‘WHAT’ questions.
  5. Create ownership of an issue or problem. In business we need to build ‘buy in’ and commitment to solutions and goals to do this we can use questions to create committment. These are usually ‘WHAT’  questions framed from the individuals perspective.

Further reading on framing your questions for business success