When You Have a Problem Don’t Provide Solutions

When was the last time you were in a meeting, and there were more questions than answers? My guess those types of meetings are rare. Why, because you are paid, in part to present solutions to solve problems; not to submit more questions.

Warren Berger, the author of “A More Beautiful Question,” explains, “Many companies — whether consciously or not — have established cultures that tend to discourage inquiry in the form of someone’s asking, for example, Why are we doing this particular thing in this particular way?”

So when you are in a meeting, you question less. Not because you don’t have any questions but because questions are frowned upon:

“Is that questions challenge authority and disrupt established structures, processes, and systems forcing people to have to at least think about doing something differently. To allow questioning is to cede power.” explains Berger.

I have been in several meetings where I asked one too many questions and overstayed my welcome. I was neither challenging authority nor attempting to disrupt established structures. I was merely trying to understand the problem and perhaps offer alternative solutions.

A plan to combat the anti-question environment is to continue asking questions. Another strategy would be to find an environment that is supportive of your inquisitive mind; the latter typically works better for me.

Shift away from always having the answers. Instead listen for the problem, even better listen for a problem that no one has identified:

“A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something — and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.” writes Berger.

It will not be easy to ask questions in the face of established structures, especially when you have others barking answers. You must fight the urge to join the pack and step back and ask, “Why?” “What if? and “How?” it just might be the most critical move in your career.