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AGILITY – HOW TO ASK MORE OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

By Dr Letitia van der Merwe & Magda Stevens – InavitIQ Learning

In the previous article we explored how to develop a system thinking approach. Systems thinking involves both a mindset that focuses on how the parts of a whole are interrelated and a set of tools that helps organisations examine complexity. After all, we want to work smarter and not harder! In this   section we will provide some insight on how to ask more open-ended questions. April Underwood said:“I’ve learned that asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness; rather, it demonstrates curiosity, engagement and intelligence.”

Agility is a way of working that enables us to comfortably question and explore alternatives.

The good news is that we are born agile and that your mind-set is not fixed, therefore we can encourage each other to become more agile. The purpose of the questioning, listening and reflecting is to look ahead and take action by finding direction, planning, and setting goals without focusing on preconceived ideas. The Centre for Action Learning devised the following questions that can help to get you started on the journey of asking more questions:

Head question

– Thinking – ideas, facts, theories, assumptions. Traditionally thought of as associated with the head, and is termed cognitive by psychologists.

Whose help do you need? Whom have you spoken to so far? Who has specialist knowledge? How do you interpret all that data? Can you see a pattern emerging? What sense are you making from the feedback you are receiving?

Heart questions

– Feeling – feelings, emotions, moods. Traditionally associated with the heart, termed affective by psychologists.

Why is this problem/challenge so important to you? How did you feel when you heard that? Would you be surprised if others felt the same/differently?

Hand questions

– Doing ‒ will, intentions, movement,  action. Traditionally thought of as limbs particularly  hands and is termed conative by psychologists

What alternatives are there? What will you do next? If your plan is accepted, how will you tell the team?

In the final section we will conclude by providing a framework for how to let go.