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The Art of Powerful Questions




                                http://www.flickr.com/photos/drachmann/327122302/sizes/l/
The Art of Powerful Questions
Whole Systems Associates www.theworldcafe.com
The Art of the Question, Marilee Goldberg
“A PARADIGM SHIFT OCCURS WHEN A QUESTION
IS ASKED INSIDE THE CURRENT PARADIGM THAT
CAN ONLY BE ANSWERED FROM OUTSIDE IT”


                                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/oberazzi/318947873/sizes/l/
From the right answers to the right questions

      Good questions lead to insights

             Time for reflection
A Powerful Question
• generates curiosity in   • generates energy and
  the listener               forward movement
• stimulates reflective    • channels attention and
  conversation               focuses inquiry
• is thought-provoking     • stays with participants
• surfaces underlying      • touches a deep
  assumptions                meaning
• invites creativity and   • evokes more questions
  new possibilities
DO’s DON’Ts

               curiosity   boredom
              reflection   reaction
    reveal assumptions     extend biases
              creativity   agreement
                 energy    stall
           engagement      distraction
                   trust   suspicion
            meaningful     trivial
trigger more questions     dead-ends
Construction, Scope and Assumptions




                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/dullhunk/202872717/sizes/l/
Construct Powerful Q’s
        Different ways of asking the same question:

•    Are you satisfied with your job?
•    When have you been most satisfied with your job?
•    What do you find most satisfying about your job?
•    How may one define job satisfaction?
•    Why might it be that your job has its ups and downs?

    (more reflective, engaging and deeper conversations)
Scope of Powerful Q’s
       Different levels of asking the same question:

•   How satisfied are you with your job?
•   How would you personally define a satisfying job?
•   How may one define job satisfaction?
•   How may one possibly define happiness?

          (balance insight, scope and relevance)
Assumptions of Powerful Q’s
   Different assumptions behind the same question:

• What can you do to improve your job satisfaction?
• What can the company do to improve the job
  satisfaction of its employees?
• How would new KPIs affect your job satisfaction?
• How may job satisfaction impact life quality?

                  (implicit / explicit)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mworrell/266913194/sizes/l/
1. Prepare background information
2. Plan goals, available time, history
3. Formulate questions
  – Write down different versions (construction,
    scope and assumptions)
  – Rate them in terms of power
  – Anticipate alternate interpretations (test)
  – Envision possible/potential responses (test more)
4. Develop and refine your own (your group)
   strategies, techniques and tips
http://www.flickr.com/photos/a_ninjamonkey/3294014627/sizes/l/
Learn to listen

     Practice, practice, practice

 Take notes (figuratively or literally)

The best questions are not questions
          (interrogations)

Interviews are learning conversations
http://www.flickr.com/photos/86979666@N00/7623744452/sizes/l/

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The art of powerful questions

  • 1. The Art of Powerful Questions http://www.flickr.com/photos/drachmann/327122302/sizes/l/
  • 2. The Art of Powerful Questions Whole Systems Associates www.theworldcafe.com
  • 3. The Art of the Question, Marilee Goldberg “A PARADIGM SHIFT OCCURS WHEN A QUESTION IS ASKED INSIDE THE CURRENT PARADIGM THAT CAN ONLY BE ANSWERED FROM OUTSIDE IT” http://www.flickr.com/photos/oberazzi/318947873/sizes/l/
  • 4. From the right answers to the right questions Good questions lead to insights Time for reflection
  • 5. A Powerful Question • generates curiosity in • generates energy and the listener forward movement • stimulates reflective • channels attention and conversation focuses inquiry • is thought-provoking • stays with participants • surfaces underlying • touches a deep assumptions meaning • invites creativity and • evokes more questions new possibilities
  • 6. DO’s DON’Ts curiosity boredom reflection reaction reveal assumptions extend biases creativity agreement energy stall engagement distraction trust suspicion meaningful trivial trigger more questions dead-ends
  • 7.
  • 8. Construction, Scope and Assumptions http://www.flickr.com/photos/dullhunk/202872717/sizes/l/
  • 9. Construct Powerful Q’s Different ways of asking the same question: • Are you satisfied with your job? • When have you been most satisfied with your job? • What do you find most satisfying about your job? • How may one define job satisfaction? • Why might it be that your job has its ups and downs? (more reflective, engaging and deeper conversations)
  • 10. Scope of Powerful Q’s Different levels of asking the same question: • How satisfied are you with your job? • How would you personally define a satisfying job? • How may one define job satisfaction? • How may one possibly define happiness? (balance insight, scope and relevance)
  • 11. Assumptions of Powerful Q’s Different assumptions behind the same question: • What can you do to improve your job satisfaction? • What can the company do to improve the job satisfaction of its employees? • How would new KPIs affect your job satisfaction? • How may job satisfaction impact life quality? (implicit / explicit)
  • 13. 1. Prepare background information 2. Plan goals, available time, history 3. Formulate questions – Write down different versions (construction, scope and assumptions) – Rate them in terms of power – Anticipate alternate interpretations (test) – Envision possible/potential responses (test more) 4. Develop and refine your own (your group) strategies, techniques and tips
  • 14.
  • 16. Learn to listen Practice, practice, practice Take notes (figuratively or literally) The best questions are not questions (interrogations) Interviews are learning conversations
  • 17.