Questions are powerful tools that wise leaders use to accomplish amazing things. Powerful questions can actually help transform the way people think about issues, challenges and can help people to identify and see opportunities. Great questions can not only inform but also enlighten thinking and behaviors. The first three questions have already been posted in the prior 3 blogs: “What is Right – What is here to Celebrate?” “What is Wrong – what is the one thing that if corrected would make the biggest positive difference?” “What is Missing – what is the one thing that if added would make a significant improvement?” The 4th and last question is nearly as powerful and helpful as the first three.
The 4th great question you want to be asking of individuals, groups, teams and organizational groups is, “What is CONFUSED or confusing here that if clarified would contribute to our being able to work and function even better?” This question works by helping focus attention on any place where lack of clarity can be leading to misunderstandings, missteps, inefficiencies or ineffectiveness. We can not know what is confused or unclear in someone else’s mind or in group action unless we ask. One test of this is to ask individuals or a team what they understand the directions to be or how they are going about dealing with a challenge, a process or project. In the answers we get, we can find where any key confusion or misunderstanding might exist as a result. Asking questions that help us identify where any significant confusion exists can transform the way work is taking place and helps to pull all into synchronous alignment.
All four of the big questions work well individually, but when combined and used on an on-going basis within a relationship, a team, organization or enterprise, they become much more than the sum of their parts. The four questions become a force for continuous learning and on-going transformation. “What is right, what is here for us to celebrate?” builds energy, momentum and focus on what is going well. “What is wrong – the one thing that if fixed would make the biggest difference?” brings a Pareto focus to addressing the most significant issues, saving time, energy and going after the “big rocks” versus the small ones that impede progress on the trail. “What is missing, the one thing that if added would make us significantly better?” again brings that Pareto, 80/20 focus, to bear by identifying the one thing that if added to the mix would make the most improvement. Finally, by asking, “What is confused, the one thing that if clarified would help the most?” we focus attention and energy on creating greater alignment and coherence in actions by shining light on misunderstandings and missteps.
Are you asking the four transformative questions on a regular basis of yourself as well as those around you? Are you teaching others to ask them? Doing so begins a process of transformation if you have the courage to ask AND the courage to hear the answers and to work with them.