Don’t just answer the question you are asked

by John Mahaffie on April 4, 2011

wrong questionInnocently or not, you are often asked a specific, even narrow question. Your natural tendency is to answer it, on its own terms, as asked. This happens all the time in organizations grappling with change. Most of the time, the asker is only trying to get the answer they think they need. They assume they are asking the right question.

But you may well need to change the question.

It’s colud be the wrong question

It probably rests on old thinking

It’s most likely based on conventional wisdom

It may be too narrowly focused, or focused on the wrong question or issue

It’s view is probably too narrow and too close to the action

So you need, often if not always, to change the question. Usually, that means to open up the thinking behind it, to put more up for a re-think.

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