We have no shortage of ideas; what we lack are questions. During meetings it is common for everyone to share their ideas but that is generally where it ends, never to be talked about again. When we turn ideas into questions, we help them grow. Instead of saying “we should “ ask “what if we”. It encourages others to join in.
The best questions challenge assumptions and threaten to kill sacred calves. Every time someone gives an explanation of “we’ve always done it that way” means it is time to dig deeper into why it has always been done that way. It could date back to relying on obsolete practices or technology.
Why Aren’t My Players Urinating After Games?
Warren Berger shares a story about a football coach at the University of Florida who wondered why his players weren’t urinating after football games. They had certainly been drinking a lot of water. He shared his question with a professor at the university who specialized in kidney medicine. The professor knew that the reason it was happening because the players were sweating the water out and weren’t replacing electrolytes. So then the professor asked the question, “what if we created a drink that replaced electrolytes”? As you can guess, this is how Gatorade was born.
A Girl Ahead of Her Time
In today’s world, it is very common to want to see a picture seconds after it was taken but the first documented request happened in the 1940s when Edwin Land took a picture of his 3 year old daughter and she asked why she couldn’t see the picture right away. This got Lamb thinking of a way to achieve such a result and later led to instant film and Polaroid cameras.
A great question may even help you help you come up with something as mundane as the law of gravity.
I suggest that instead of brainstorming sessions, we have question-storming sessions, where everyone throws out everything you want to know. You don’t try to answer them in this session (that comes at a later time). Now you’re not trying to reduce to good ideas; you’re trying to expand to great questions.