It All Starts With A Provocative Question

all brilliant answers start with questions

It’s not unusual that we get stuck in situations where we’re not able to find a way forward and feel like we’ve exhausted all options. In these situations we struggle, get stressed out and block ourselves from exploring other options. What do you do to get unstuck? 

First, you stop doing whatever it is that you are doing because to change a result, you have to change a behavior. And, to change a behavior you have to shift your perspective. There are various ways to shift your perspective, a powerful one is to ask yourself a provocative question.

Brilliant Answers Start With Questions

Why are questions very powerful? Because we rarely challenge our assumptions; questions force us to reflect, ponder and explore. In life and in business, meaningful conversations start with great questions. For example, below is an interesting discussion about helping someone else shift their perspective to get unstuck, via Bruce Kasanoff:

If you could ask a leader or colleague ONE question to spark his or his imagination and creativity, what would it be?

Imagine that this person faces difficult challenges and that all obvious solutions have been exhausted. Perhaps the company they lead is no longer competitive or nimble enough. Maybe their career has stalled and they don’t know what to do next.

It’s tempting to give people answers to their problems, but this is like feeding a starving man rather than teaching him to fish. A provocative question has the potential to help a person acquire the means to discover and embrace his or her ideal solution.

For example, in college, my first real boss changed the path of my life by asking me, “Do you understand what you could accomplish if you showed initiative instead of waiting for me to tell you what to do next?”

What question would YOU ask, or what question did someone ask you that shifted your path in a profound manner?

My answer:

A very useful way to avoid getting stuck in one way thinking is to consider how other people with a unique perspective would approach the situation. For example, ask her/him “what would _____ do?”

You can put in the blank any person with a unique perspective, such as Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, William Wallace, etc..

Bottom line: Innovators understand that innovation is as much about attitude and perspective as it is about process, and a key trait all innovators share is that of being resourceful and figuring out a path forward. One way to be “stuck-proof” is to develop a portfolio of mental models, I call it King Arthur’s Court, that you can use to consider how someone else would approach a situation to shift your perspective.

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Mapping Innovation with Greg Satell