The Creative Power of Questions

The Creative Power of Questions

There are lots of questions that I really love. I even have a top five favourites list (yes, I really do!). Because you’re extra-special 🙂 I will share them with you.

They are:
1. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if…?
2. How can we / I…?
3. What's stopping us / me?
4. What if we / I…?
5. What next?

These questions are brilliant for creative thinking and problem-solving because:
• They are all positive, and influence our ‘can do’ approach.
• They assume that things are possible.
• They leave wriggle room and scope for the answer to be less than perfect.
• Used together, they give you a quick and easy mini-process for creative problem-solving.
• They work when you do them alone, or in a group.

Here’s how you could use them to get some insights and possibly breakthrough thinking in a 45 minute individual or team session.

1. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if…? (10 minutes)

This is an almost infallible question to ask yourself or your team at the beginning of a problem-solving or new project launch meeting because it helps to articulate a clear vision and goals from the outset.

Spend just a few minutes completing the Wouldn’t it be fantastic if… statement as many times as you can (either individually or in a group) with real items relating to your work context. Make sure you write ALL your thoughts down. Spend about 10-15 minutes on the activity and see if you can think of at least 5-10 Wouldn’t it be fantastic if…items.

Then, take a step back and review what you have written. Think about your answers in the round. What does the combination of statements say to you? Which ones stand out more than others? Write a few notes to capture your thoughts.

Example:
Wouldn’t it be fantastic doubled our revenue by 2019?

2. How can we…? (10 minutes)

Building on the activity you did in step 1, now begin to explore how you can make your goals a reality by mind mapping your responses to the question How can we achieve this?, perhaps adjusting the words to match the vision that you’ve created.

Examples:
How can we increase our online visits?
How can we incentivise customers to add an extra item to their baskets?
How can we get customers to recommend us to their friends and family?

3. What’s stopping us? (5 minutes)

Grab a different colour pen or post-its if you have them, and go round the key items on your mind map, adding in your thoughts on anything that you think could get in the way. Identify the most likely and significant items.

Examples:
We don't have much time with all the other projects that we have going on.
Budget is limited.

4. What if…? (10 minutes)

For the most likely and significant items that you think could stop you, think about some solutions, asking yourself What if..? It is important to avoid premature evaluation as you do this, just go with the flow and roll with your thoughts, writing them all down.

Examples:

What if we employed a graduate intern to help?
What if we explored grants and funding for innovation development?
What if we stopped doing some other marketing activities and redirected the money to the website?

5. What next? (10 minutes)

Now re-read all your outputs from steps 1-4, and make think about what insights and thoughts they give you as a whole. Then, quite simply, ask yourself What next? and make a note of the most important actions you can take straightaway to move yourself towards the vision you have created, even if these are only small steps.

Hope you give this a go. If you have any questions, please just get in touch and I will be happy to help and answer them. I’d also love to hear how you get on.

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