Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Qvest, Pia Lauritzen, PhD’s new article Want to make an impact? Change your questioning habits is out now in Strategy+Business.
Here is a brief excerpt from the article:
The conventional wisdom has always been that leaders who ask the right questions will get the right answers to make the right decisions. In my 20 years researching the nature and impact of questions, I have come to realize that not only is the conventional wisdom false, but it can also damage companies. Depriving employees of the opportunity to ask questions and reflect on their roles narrows the scope for developing insights and influencing behaviors.
Read the rest of the article, including four ways to help employees become more reflective and more productive in Strategy+Business - no subscription required.
To give a bit of background for the article on questioning habits, I asked Pia a few questions about how this article came to be.
Q: This article is about the power of questions. You are a “philosopher of questions” - what does that even mean?
Pia: Well, during my PhD research in philosophy, I realized that the most important key to human interaction is also the most overlooked.
For 2500 years philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, biologists, etc. have studied all kinds of human ‘features’, but their only interest in questions has been how they lead to insightful answers. That is, no one has ever studied how questions affect our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world we share.
Being a philosopher of questions means thinking about the nature and impact of questions in all kinds of contexts. You might say that as a philosopher of questions, I am not interested in questions because they create valuable answers, but because they create valuable relationships - between humans, but also between humans and other beings.
Q: Why do you think that questions matter so much for large organizations?
Pia: When one person asks another person a question, they both automatically direct their attention to the situation they have in common. To the problem they share. Imagine that happening at scale - different people, teams, and divisions collaborating on solving the same strategic problems at the same time. It's like magic.
Tapping into the questions employees ask each other is the strongest - and simplest - way for large companies to connect different teams with each other, and support them in reaching important goals together.
It’s the secret hack that companies desperately need to solve the world’s most pressing problems, for example around climate and food security. My contribution is to help leaders realize this, and to make it easy for them to unleash the power of questions in their organizations.
Q: How can anyone become better at asking questions?
Pia: I get this question a lot, and my answer is always the same. It's so much more simple than people think. Are you ready?
To become better at asking questions, you just need to listen to other people's questions. The ones they ask you, and the ones they ask each other.
And if you want to try a fun little exercise, I suggest that you bring a notebook with you everywhere you go and note down the questions you meet. You could start by just noting down all the questions in a single meeting. Then afterwards, you review those questions and think about how they worked. Why they worked, and what you can learn from them.
Thank you Pia!
The full title of Pia Lauritzen’s January 2022 article in Strategy+Business is Want to make an impact? Change your questioning habits. - Four ways to help employees become more reflective and more productive.
She has written the article based on decades of experience doing philosophical research into questions and consulting work with large legacy organizations.
Captain of the ship at Qvest. Her formal title is CEO and Co-founder. Marie has worked in corporate management and as a consultant across multiple sectors in Denmark and the US. Marie has a PhD in Organizational Analysis.
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