24 August 2020
Stuck on a problem? Start to unlock entirely different solutions and perspectives through catalytic questioning.
Stuck on a problem? Start to unlock entirely different solutions and perspectives through thoughtful questioning. Practising questioning, without looking for the answers, helps us think in new ways that can unlock insights and get us creatively solving problems in our personal and professional lives.
This versatile tool works with 1-1 sessions right through to large groups, when a team or individual is ‘stuck’ with a particular challenge or to intentionally practise innovation skills in order to become more creative.
Select a challenge you care deeply about. Invite a few people to help you consider that challenge from fresh angles. Ideally, choose people who have no direct experience with the problem and whose worldview is starkly different from yours. In two minutes or less, share your problem with your partners.
Set a timer and spend the next four minutes collectively generating as many questions as possible about the challenge. Follow two key rules: Don’t answer any of the questions and don’t explain why you’re asking the questions. Go for at least 15-20 questions in four fast minutes. Write all the questions down verbatim, word for word as you hear them.
Study the questions and select a few “catalytic” questions from the list, ones that hold the most potential for disrupting the status quo. Commit to pursuing at least one new pathway you’ve glimpsed – and do something about it as a truth seeker. Get to work and find some better answers.
The best questioners are very comfortable with discomfort. If a question makes you uncomfortable, it’s a sign it could be explored further.