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The Art of Powerful Questions- Book review

1 June 2024
Dr. Moria Levy
A group of question marks

The Art of Powerful Questions: Catalyzing Insight, Innovation, and Action is a short digital booklet (12 pages) written by Eric Vogt, Juanita Brown, and David Isaacs and published in 2023.

In the booklet, they discuss the advantages inherent in using powerful questions and offer tools for developing such questions.


This summary is an appetizer – and of course, it is recommended to turn to the source: Read.


Highlights:

Western culture tends to focus on answers and solutions, which may explain why it places less emphasis on asking questions. An exception is Germany, where officials in large organizations are even responsible for asking questions.

Characteristics of powerful questions:

  • Creating curiosity among the listener

  • Spark reflective conversation and other questions

  • provocative thinking; Directing attention and focusing questioning

  • Surface assumptions and touch with deep meaning

  • Energize progress and invite creativity in new directions


Examples:

  1. What does it mean to be ethical?

  2. What options have not yet been considered to help with a particular issue?


To generate powerful questions:

Structure:

Ask questions that begin with "Why?", "How" and even "What" (not who, where, when, and whether).

Note: Care should be taken to choose wording that will not provoke a defensive response that neutralizes the powerful question.


Scope:

Expanding the scope but limiting it to an influential demarcation for people relevant to the discourse.


Assumptions:

Almost every powerful question has several assumptions at its core. These assumptions must be considered and used wisely.

  1. Neutralize accusations in an unwanted situation.

  2. Critical thinking undermines some of the basic assumptions and asks questions that allow for rethinking.

  3. Reinforcing the premise of people's affinity for the issues at hand.


To make sure that a question is formulated as a powerful question, it is helpful to validate it against the characteristics of the questions, as defined above, and refine them accordingly.


How are we prepared?

  • Train managers and employees to ask powerful questions.

  • Examine how powerful questions can be integrated into work processes on an ongoing basis or how they can be improved in terms of implementation.

  • By encouraging people to ask powerful questions by example (on strategic issues), in learning conversations, in encouraging diverse opinions, in positive evaluation of the questioners, in encouraging shared meaning, knowledge communities, and more.

Of course, for it to succeed, it is necessary to support a culture that guarantees a safe space and no fear of open dialogue.


There are already organizations implementing this. What about you?

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