Tips For Inspiring Your Team To Ask The Right Questions


According to leadership expert Hal Gregersen’s book The Innovator’s DNA, questions are a necessary, practical tool to inspire new ideas, solve problems, and gain new perspectives. That seems logical enough, but drawing questions out of a team can often be easier said than done.

Gregersen developed a method known as “Catalytic Questioning” designed to get team members to ask questions that lead to creative problem solving. With time, commitment and practice, leaders can use this method to re-engage their team and foster a culture of curiosity.

Choose Your Opportunity

Pick a problem plaguing your team that does not currently have an obvious solution and schedule a meeting to tackle the opportunity. Always refer to the issue on the table as an opportunity. This shift from the negative connotation of “problem” to the positive connotation of “opportunity” will help the group get into the right frame of mind.

Open With Rapid Fire

At the start of the meeting, designate someone to be the record keeper. Make sure this individual can write quickly and legibly. Encourage everyone to ask any and all questions that come to mind in rapid fire succession. No statements can be made at this time, which means no solutions can be offered and no judgement can be passed. The record keeper should record every question on a whiteboard or flip chart.

The goal of this session should be to collect around 50 questions across the span of 10 to 20 minutes. You’ll need to encourage the group to keep going, especially the first few times you deploy a catalytic questioning method.

Identify The Catalysts

Once you have compiled 50 or so questions, identify the questions that the group cannot immediately answer. These are the catalytic questions that will lead the group towards a solution. Don’t shy away from questions could potentially disrupt the status quo, as those questions often lead to true innovation. Choose three or four catalysts that your team is eager to tackle.

Begin Working On The Answers

Now that the group has three or four targeted questions relating to a problem, it’s time to find solutions. Send the team off with “homework.” You may assign some to make observations. Others may be tasked with visiting other departments to gather outside input. Perhaps you might design some experiments to test theories. Choose a variety of methods for gathering information to solve the problem, and then regroup a few days later to share the collected data. From there, you can begin to leverage that information to find a solution. In some cases, you may need to deploy another round of catalytic questioning in order to get closer to a solution.

If you are looking for highly-skilled IT professionals who bring natural curiosity and inquisitiveness to the table, reach out to the award-winning recruiting experts at Talon today. We can match you with the people who will drive your business forward this year. Call us at 609-924-8900 or fill out our online form below to get started.


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