Classic Countdown — In the month leading up to the fourth anniversary of this blog’s launch, I am sharing my favorite posts. This was published on Jan. 26, 2011.
The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions. Antony Jay
I‘m not much impressed with the critics. They are the people who, at first glance, look smart and creative. They’ll sit in meetings and play the role of the Devil’s advocate. On the surface, they appear to be team players pulling in the same direction as the rest of us.
Look beyond the facade, though, and you’ll notice some interesting contrasts. Critics want to be perceived as creative thinkers, yet they demonstrate little creativity just by pointing out what’s wrong with something. They hope you’ll regard them as hard workers, yet in reality they have chosen the path of least resistance. Critics hope you’ll see them as high performers, yet they do most of their swimming in the shallow end of the pool.
Initially, critics might appear to be part of the solution, but actually they are part of the problem.
Again, I’m not much impressed with the creativity of someone who is quick to spot wrong answers. I’m impressed when someone can spot wrong questions, and I’m even more impressed when that person wrestles with finding the right questions.
In earning my master’s degree I took a class in market research. One key thing I learned was this: To the get the right answers we must obsess with asking the right questions. The wording of a question often determines the answer.
Do you ask good questions? Do you find yourself mentally rewording and even rehearsing questions prior to asking them? That takes creativity, you know.
What is your motivation in asking questions? Do you want your questions to empower and add value? Or are you subtly trying to impress people by asking questions that are negative and destructive?
If we ask the right questions, I believe the right answers will magically manifest themselves. Agree?