One of the most powerful tools in the strategic thinker’s toolbox is the ability to pose high-quality questions. A high-quality question is better than a good question.
Here is an example of a good question: What is going on here? Asking this question would certainly encourage a person to look a little deeper into the situation. It could be made a high-quality question by adding specificity. These are better questions:
- What is interesting about what is going on here?
- How are power relationships changing?
- What relevant things are being overlooked by most people?
- What are patterns in the evidence and what assumptions being made about those patterns?
- What are the future implications of what we see today?
Good questions are conversation starters, but they don’t typically encourage answers that are specific to your context and to your ability to secure your fundamental interests. Above, I made a good question better by adding some of the specifics of strategy: interestingness, power, overlooking things, patterns, and future implications.
Here is another example: A good question is to ask about strengths and weaknesses. A better question (and one of my favorites) is, What could your competitor do to put you out of business? A high-quality questions points you towards insights that are specific and meaningful to your organization.
Good questions are conversation starters, whereas high-quality questions require and provoke deeper thought. Do you agree?