What’s the Big Idea? – An often asked question by marketeers before any presentation.

This and many such questions can lead to more creativity, however, asking the right questions to encourage creativity and innovative solutions is an art to be learnt and practised.

Unfortunately many of us don’t do the same, and often even asking questions is looked down upon by the leaders and/or team members. It could be that we may feel uncomfortable answering questions that may be difficult and could make us do more work or a complete re-work or going back to design board that we may not want to do; or it could be because we feel that our work is being criticised. But once this barrier is crossed, the teams can engage in meaningful conversations to lead the way for innovation.

The challenge is not just to ask questions but asking the relevant question – not a too open-ended general question and neither a too specific a question which can only lead to a certain solution. The trick is to reach to the core to solve the business situation or find the truth.

Tim Brown of IDEO U states this process simply as Who + Impact – Solution : The target audience of the problem statement, the impact that we want to achieve, and removing the solution from the question. One should also think through to not let one’s own unconscious biases convey itself in questions and that’s why this formula is a sound method to follow.

One can try to let go of assumptions and ask from a perspective of a child – the questions would seem to be innocent, may be absurd or very basic but can be powerful enough to start a new idea. Sometimes questions are also answers, if we ask the right questions.

High-level questions which may drive purpose but may not be relevant in short term or to a particular project should ideally be avoided but cannot be completely eliminated to keep the bigger picture in mind.

It is not necessary for teams only to follow this process, individuals can do the same as well with their work. It is beneficial sometimes to get out of your everyday environment and be at a different place which helps one observe new things and stimulate the mind. Asking oneself these questions and following the process can also help trigger to think differently. Many a times creating a mind map also help solve for a problem or to reach a solution or generate multiple ideas.

Some of this new age thinking may not be only relevant in the professional context but can also help us in our everyday life – we begin to look things differently, approach things in a new way, find a better purpose or just be better person.

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