Why we might be struggling to improve conditions for innovation
June 5, 2015
An interview on ‘Leadership towards innovation’
February 27, 2014
The impatience of the 21st Century
March 24, 2016
Towards WE & BEYOND – Impressions from a shared journey Part XIII
May 29, 2014
Do you feel inspired and empowered by the Butterfly Effect with which we closed our last blog? This concept from complexity theory that offers us choice and freedom, that opens a window of potential, possibility and opportunity: each and every one of us, small we we might be, have the potential to have a profound influence on the world.
To us this is a rather exciting promise!
And the excitement is followed quickly by the question: what are we to do to create reality from this potential and opportunity?
Having played around with this question for a while we have come to realise: questions are the answer! Or in other words, it is all about the art of asking questions. It is the art of identifying questions that are worth answering, questions to which finding an answer will make a real difference.
Think about it, a question is like an invisible thread that leads us to an answer. In our observation today's obsession with speed and results means that we tend to pick up the first thread that crosses our path; without thinking further, without taking a closer look at the quality of the threat we start chasing it down to find an answer... often to a question (or problem or challenge) we are have not properly defined. Will such a thread take as far? Will we find something relevant and meaningful by following it? Or is it a thread that, while allowing us to find an answer quickly yet does not carry any weight?
So what should we do instead? It is also the how and with what intent we ask questions that matters!
Depending on how we ask the question there may be one answer - or many. If I ask closed questions like, what is 5 + 5 (and if this is not a trick question) then there is only one answer: 10. However, if I believe that 10 is a target worth exploring and ask open questions like, what can we put together to reach 10, the possible answers - and with it the possible solutions, opportunities and possibilities - becomes endless.
Let's have a closer look at: what is our intent when we ask a question? Are we interested in exploration, understanding and awareness, or are we keen to prove that we have the right answer and are just seeking confirmation and closure? How comfortable are we to ask questions to which we do not know the answers yet? Especially if we are experts, if we are the boss? How open are we to answers we don't want to hear, be it because the answer may challenge our assumptions, or might require us to take inconvenient decisions followed by unpleasant action?
Already Aristotle declared: "Defining the problem is half the solution." And one of the key insights of quantum mechanics is: "the way you pose the question (set up the experiment), predicts the answer (what you measure)."
What does all this have to do with the global challenges we as humanity face? How can it help every individual to cope with modern everyday struggles in times of overload and time scarcity? We believe that the answers are all out there, often not obvious, yet amazingly accessible thanks to the enormous technological progress of the 20th century.
So here is our thirteenth insight: if we dare to re-develop the art of asking meaningful questions the threads that lead us to the answers will reveal themselves. In order to find the right questions, however, we need to move from security, standardisation, formalisation and maintenance to curiosity, creativity, diversity and generation.