If you were good at math, that little exercise might have been fun for you. But for many of us (myself included), that experience was full of anxiety and just made my brain want to shut down altogether.
Most students’ level of engagement with a topic they’re not good at, is shallow at best. And that’s because of the way our education happens: teacher poses a question, you’re tasked with finding the right answer.
But what if we flipped this scenario on its head?
What if you were taught instead to ask the teacher questions?
Would you even know where to begin?
And how much more engaging (and fun!) would your time in school have been?
Unfortunately, most of us weren’t taught to ask questions. Only to answer them.
And since asking good questions is at the heart of something called critical thinking, as entrepreneurs and marketers, it’s imperative that we learn this skill.
Daniel Pink, in his latest book, “To Sell is Human,” points out that much of our business success comes from finding better and unexpected problems, not solving existing ones:“ “…today, when information is abundant and democratic rather than limited and privileged, [the ability to solve problems] matters relatively less. After all, if I know precisely what my problem is — whether I’m hoping to buy a particular camera or I want to take a 3-day beach vacation — I can often find the information I need to make my decision without any assistance. The services of others are far more valuable when I’m mistaken, confused, or completely clueless about my true problem.”
And the way to do that? Ask better questions!
The folks at the Right Question Institute are on a mission to change the way teachers teach. And we think they’re on to something.
In the new world of marketing and sales, developing the skill of asking better questions is where we need to focus.
To that end, we’ll be incorporating their Question Formulation Technique into our curriculum.
Here’s how the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) works:
1. Focus on a topic. The topic for our first class this time around is “Market Research and Your Ideal Client.” Take a minute or so to think about that topic in terms of your own background, experience and so on.
2. Produce your questions. Generate a list of questions by writing down as many as you can think of, without stopping to judge, discuss, or answer any of them. Don’t edit. Just write the questions that pop into your mind. Change any statements to questions.
3. Improve your questions. Go through your list and categorize each one as closed-ended (those you can answer with a simple yes or no) and open-ended (those that require more than a one-word answer). Look at your list and for a few closed-ended questions, create an open-ended one. For a few open-ended ones, create closed-ended questions.
4. Prioritize your questions. Choose your three most important questions. Think about why you chose them and then edit them one more time so they’re crystal clear.
Before each week’s lesson, all the players — our public contestants and our Play-at-Home members — will be asked to develop their three most important questions about that week’s topic. And then, working in their teams, they’ll pool their questions and narrow them down even more so that each team brings its three most important questions to class. (Play-at-home members have a private forum for doing this.)
Each team will get a chance to present their questions — to either myself, Nick (my co-host) or that week’s Guest Mentor — helping to make each lesson/episode that much more engaging and fun for everyone.
I’m also betting the questions that folks come up with will help everyone integrate the learning even more.
What do you think? Can you come up with a question about asking questions?