I found a great article about this in the Harvard Business Review.
What if instead of writing out your questions and brainstorming up a ton of answers, you first brainstorming up a bunch of new questions?
It seems that if you do, you can find your way to even better questions. Questions that challenge your assumptions or help you uncover new insights and ideas that open up new possibilities.
This is an idea I really love. It isn’t to replace all brainstorming of answers, it is a step in the process.
The real quest is for new questions. Once we have the questions we will find answers. We can’t help that, but finding the right questions isn’t always so easy.
So we must brainstorm them up. This is something you can apply to area of your life you where you need new directions and insights, your person life, your creative life, and work life.
There is one criticism of the author’s book, and that is that he doesn’t offer a lot of help in how to create great questions. I’m going to be studying this. It isn’t actually that is, but there are a few steps that might help.
Name your problem
What is a problem you struggle with?
Build your awareness
What assumptions and beliefs about this problem are you carrying around? Awareness is critical. It’s what most of self-development and becoming more is really all about. We must be aware of the unsaid and what we take for granted. When we raise awareness, we gain access to so many new resources.
Mix up the context
What if you put your problem in another context? How would it look then? If you put our problem in another context, we reframe it, and here we can find new thoughts about the problem which hopefully lead to some new question.
Mix up the outcome
What is the outcome you wish for? Is there a way to express it in another way? or emphasize some of the side benefits instead? Or can you imagine another path to your desired outcome?
Change the values you are evaluating the problem with
What is the end value you are trying to achieve? What if you switched it out for another? How would that change the question? I really liked this example. If you are looking for ways to leave your mark in the world, is your goal to be someone important or to do something important? These represent two entirely different end values. One is for significance and the other is contribution.
What can you question?
Ideas, context, assumptions, beliefs, rules, taboos, everything we take for granted about the world. All of this is open to help you find new questions. It can be tough work to be willing to challenge accepted viewpoints.
I hope this gets you started. This is deeply creative work and you will need many sessions to find the new questions that open up new thinking. It’s definitely a skill worth developing.
And keep on brainstorming too! We need all the ideas we can get as we keep getting new and better questions!