Attractive, intelligent, strong, and an insightful persona. You might remember her.
Throughout the 70’s, there was this superhero show called Wonder Woman. Her powers were derived from “Amazon concentration,” not as a gift from the parents or gods. Besides those cool bracelets that could deflect bullets, she also owned a magic lasso which was unbreakable, infinitely stretchable, and compelled all encircled by it to obey the commands of the wielder, most notably to tell the truth.
Don’t you ever wish you had the lasso yourself? So that you could discover truth and see things with great clarity. I do. Think of all the ways it could be used! All of us who are creating markets, or growing companies have to solve problems and fix things. If only we could spot the problem situation clearly; if only we could find out the underlying truth of what is, then perhaps, we’d be better able to see with clarity what needs fixing and possibly the solution.
“Questions are formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose” adapted from Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road
When boats use sonar, what they are doing is sending out a signal and then tracking the response. Once they have enough responses, they can pin point where something is and sometimes even what it is. There is a business correlary to sonar. It’s called questions. Asking the right question can help you unsurface what the issues are, and where they are. Questions, therefore, act as a lasso to help you decipher truth.
Asking a series of questions with clarity of what you are looking for leads to precision. When questions are built with such precision that they provide sorting and sifting during the gathering or discovery process. They focus the research and inquiry process so that we gather only the very specific evidence and information we require, only those facts which “cast light upon” or illuminate the main question at hand. While all that seems positive, most people don’t take time to frame the questions before hand, or to ask questions in layers.
Effective questions are questions that are powerful and thought provoking. Effective questions are open-ended and not leading questions. They are not “why” questions, but rather “what” or “how” questions. “Why” questions are good for soliciting information, but can make people defensive so be thoughtful in your use of them. When asking effective questions, it is important to wait for the answer and not provide the answer.
When you learn to ask smart questions, you’ll have that lasso you’ve always wanted. On top of that, you’ll have a way to connect with people in a more meaningful way, to more fully understand the situation or problem at hand, defuse volatile situations, get cooperation, plant your own ideas, and persuade people to work with you because you’ve gained their confidence. Whew, good list. Better than that lasso thing ever was.