We’ve all heard the saying, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. Moving forward requires change and change requires you to do things differently. Many teams struggle with moving beyond the status quo.
By engaging your entire team in exploring options, you’ll increase the odds that they commit to the resulting changes. This makes your job much easier. If they aren’t on board with the new direction, you’ll struggle to pull them along.
But, sometimes it’s hard to come up with innovative ideas. Our minds can be limited by the way things have been done in the past.
Creative blocks are normal. Even artists, writers, and inventors, whose job it is to be creative, have them.
Luckily, there are ways to move through the blocks.
Ask Different Questions
The simple act of posing different questions can help to break you out of old thinking patterns.
Typical questions such as, “how can we solve this problem?”, keep our minds looking for a single right answer to the problem. Instead, try the following questions that knock down that thought barrier.
- What’s possible?
- What other options are there?
- What is there that we’re not seeing?
- What would we do if we had unlimited time and resources?
Do the words you use to pose a question really matter that much? For years, I underestimated the power of asking the right questions, until an experience changed my perspective.
I was struggling with a colleague who had a habit of leaving out critical pieces of information, which left me more likely to make a wrong decision. A coworker suggested something that worked for her in the past. When the conversation seems to be over, ask, “What else do I need to know?”
It didn’t seem like seven small words would make any difference. I figured this person was intentionally withholding information from me. But I was desperate, so I tried it at the end of our next meeting.
To my surprise, he thought for a moment and then shared something that he hadn’t mentioned that was crucial to the situation we needed to address!
I discovered that asking carefully worded questions can evoke different responses. Albert Einstein said that no problem can be solved by the same thinking that created it. Asking a-typical questions gets the brain thinking along a new line.
Do This, Not That
Rather than spending more time in frustrating brainstorming sessions, spend your time crafting better questions before the session starts. You’ll yield more innovative ideas faster, your team’s creative confidence will soar, and results will improve!
What questions have you found to be powerful idea generators?
You can leave your answer in a comment below.
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