I just spent an enlightening day at a workshop put on by the World Institute for Action Learning. Action learning is an intriguing Socratic approach for helping people and organizations become more effective, especially when faced with complex and difficult problems. Central to Action Learning is coming up with really good questions. I posted this a while back:
We love to build consensus on the top questions to answer:
- How do we beat the competition?
- How do we build a better mouse trap?
- What will it take to become more efficient?
Our shared questions take on a life of their own that is somewhat useful: they help us communicate and make us feel we are part of a team that is working towards something. Unhappily, we usually believe that the answer to a shared question will have more value than it really does. Peter Drucker reminds us:
"The most common source of mistakes in management decisions is the emphasis on finding the right answer rather than the right question."
Source: The Practice of Management; Peter Drucker; 1993 HarperBusiness