Innovation Starts with Asking the Right Questions

When I was in university, our professors would always ask us after every lecture, “Do you have questions?” — and every single day, no one ever bothered to raise their hand and give out a query, not even me. I mean, why bother? I might end up looking stupid in the process.

Little did I know that I would soon learn the real importance of asking questions in my business, and not just any kind of questions, but the right questions. For example, a simple question that I once asked myself was, “How could I possibly reach out to the public?” And the answer was, “Creating a blog!” Hence, what you’re reading right now is a product of inquisition and curiosity.

So, what does asking the right questions have to do with innovation? The essence of innovation lies in recognising the weight of inquiries and their need for solutions. Given the circumstances of today’s world, information of just about anything can be easily gathered — may it be through tutorial videos, search engines, or even blogs like this. Thus, asking the right questions rooted in your curiosity could just be your strongest baseline in conceptualising and validating your chosen innovation.

With questions aiding breakthrough thinking, how do you tell if a question is “right”?

The right question will make you ponder and approach it from different perspectives just to crack it. No matter how verbose or intelligent questions may sound, as long as it is common or easily answered, then you’re not doing it correctly. You don’t want to concoct questions just for the sake of having questions (remember those classmates who asked just to sound smart?). They need to serve a purpose, incite a response and stimulate you and your audience. As Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask.”

In an effective innovation plan, utilising the right questions could help find the answers we’ve been yearning for.

To start, there are two types of questions you should be looking for — the base questions and the absurd ones. Base questions aim to address the essential purpose of your innovation, these questions aim to address the basics and foundation of your work. It can be as simple as, “Does it work?” or “Should it be in blue instead?” We also have absurd questions like, “What could happen if we interchange different steps as in backward tracking” or “What was the root cause of our problem?” These questions, no matter how complicated or simple, could help you make sure that you’re reaching the highest potential of your innovation, leaving no sides of the project unseen.

Not all people are down with coming up with questions; sometimes a push is necessary.

This push must come from you. Remember that the true mark of a leader is someone who can empower the people around them, and asking questions is part and parcel of empowerment. Just be sure that you encourage them and respond appropriately to their questions.

What you want is to let the whole team engage in an open and comfortable environment that encourages inquiry, so that you can eventually collect the right questions and together, search and refine the answers to help better your innovation. Move away from concrete statements such as, “Our refurbished model assists our target audience in their daily tasks,” and instead expand your boundaries and get people to think of the possibilities, and ask themselves: “How exactly does our refurbished gadget model assist our target audience in their daily tasks? What are some areas that need troubleshooting? What would happen if we upgrade it once more?”

Should the right questions be asked and relayed, everyone in the team gets to grasp the true purpose of the project and its related undertakings, and can align themselves with the ultimate vision. Making sure that the team consistently asks questions lets everyone feel that they’re a part of the main goal of the innovation, and that it’s a continuous process powered by the whole team’s efforts. Beginning today, try to develop the habit of asking questions; you’ll see how crafting the right questions can give you the greatest results in no time!

To your success,


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