Are these powerful questions powerful for you?


While cleaning out file drawer today I found a non referenced handout from a conference a few years ago, Powerful Questions.

According to the tiny description on the green sheet, the purpose of these questions is to stimulate new knowledge and creative thinking.

They don’t work so much for me.  It’s hard for me to connect with more than  20% of them.  Maybe they work better for you.

An important question for Creativity Professionals: are the questions we use ones that work for us, given our style preferences?  And if so, then what are some ways to we expand our repertoire to ensure the people we work with connect with them rather than zone out?

So, if these work for you… go for it. And may the blessings of new ideas and new decisions to create a satisfying future rain upon you.  If they don’t work, no worries, there are others that do.  They are just not included in this post.

Powerful Questions

For Collective/group/team, Attention to a Specific Situation

  • What question, if answered, could make the most difference to the future of your situation?
  • What’s important to you about your situation, and why do you care?
  • What draws you to this inquiry?
  • What is our intention here? What’s the deeper purpose that is really worthy of your best effort?
  • What opportunities can you see in your situation?
  • What do we know about the situation and what do we still need to learn?
  • What are the dilemmas/opportunities in the specific situation?
  • What assumptions do we need to test or challenge in our thinking about this situation?
  • What would someone who had a very different set of beliefs than we do say about this situation?

Questions for Connecting Ideas and Finding Deeper Insight

  • What’s taking shape? What are you hearing underneath the variety of opinions being expressed? What’s in the center of the table?
  • What’s emerging here for you? What new connections are you making?
  • What had real meaning for you from what you’ve heard? What surprised you? What challenged you?
  • What’s missing from this picture so far? What is it we’re not seeing? What do we need more clarity about?
  • What’s been your major learning insight or discovery so far?
  • What’s the next level of thinking we need to do?
  • If there was one thing that hasn’t yet been said in order to reach a deeper level of understanding/clarity, what would that be?

Questions that Create Forward Movement

  • What would it take to create change on this issue?
  • What could happen that would enable you/us to feel fully engaged and energized about (the specific situation)?
  • What’s possible here and who cares? (rather than ‘what’s wrong here and who’s responsible’?)
  • What needs our immediate attention going forward?
  • If our success were completely guaranteed, what bold steps might we choose?
  • How can we support each other in taking the next steps? What unique contribution can we each make?
  • What challenges might come our way and how might we meet them?
  • What conversation, if begun today, could ripple out in a way that created new possibilities for the future of this situation?
  • What see might we plant together today, that could make the most difference in the future of our situation?

Overall, I like these points for reference. It would never occur to me to ask people what’s on the table unless I didn’t know what the centerpiece was made from.  There are many illusive metaphors and abstractions that require effort to understand, let alone respond to.  I’m holding on to these though – for client groups I’ll be working with in the future who speak in metaphors and abstractions.  Thank you anonymous author!

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