Asking Questions

I just finished reading an excellent article on Better Brainstorming in HBR. The basic premise is that instead of asking a question and brainstorming answers, you brainstorm better questions. This leads to more open creativity and broader participation from more people.

"When you're a student, you're judged by how well you answer questions. Somebody else asks the questions, and if you give good answers, you'll get a good grade. But in life, you're judged by how good your questions are." -- Robert Langer

This got me thinking: What areas in my life could I be asking better questions? For me, I think about my life in the context of:

  • Family
  • Myself
  • Work

In work / business, we use brainstorming often enough that the applications seem pretty clear. I can certainly apply this while working on new products or when trying to determine the best path forward with a software feature or with an organizational challenge. When we moved down to Charleston though, we used a business technique (SWOT analysis -- nerdy, I know) in order to help make our decision, so I'm wondering how I can apply this to my non work life as well. So with my family life and thinking about myself, here are some questions I can think of:

  • What are some things you're doing today that you'll regret in 6 months?
  • What are some things you're not planning to do today that you'll wish you had 6 months from now?
  • Is my family happy today?
  • What could I do today for my kids health? What about my own?
  • Am I living up to my potential?
  • If I could make different choices this year than I did last year, what would they be?
  • Is there anything stopping me from making those choices today?
  • What's the most important thing you could do right now?

Ok, with that last question .. I'm going to walk away from my computer and go play with my 5 year old.