Cherish Unanswered Questions

for organizations


c.os.org.wonder.07

This Domain-Level Guide is designed to be used based on the Core Model. Please refer to the Cherish Unanswered Questions Core Practice before exploring this guide.

overview

Humans are creatures that strive for answers. Organizations are even more so. This fact places us in an unnatural state when we face a question that does not have a good solution just yet. Some might try to push stronger for an answer, even to the extent of forcing one on the question. Others might dismiss the question since it cannot be answered. Both options fail to acknowledge the magic and beauty of an unanswered question.

When you allow questions to be present in what you do and affect you even when there is no answer on sight, they become a driving force that inspires you to explore possibilities.

guide

Don’t Push for an Answer Where There Still Isn’t One

To make the most of unanswered questions, you must first acknowledge their potential value. You have to accept their existence and avoid the urge to come up with a definitive answer at any cost.

At the same time, you should not dismiss these questions. If anything, you should celebrate them and give them a central place that will allow them to affect you and your team.

  • Acknowledge the fact that there are some questions with no apparent answer. At least not yet.
  • Don’t dismiss such questions, but don’t force finding an answer prematurely either.
  • Consider the value of the question, even when it lacks an answer.
Revisit Unanswered Questions

To fully utilize unanswered questions, you need to revisit them regularly. The goal of revisiting these questions is not to answer them (although an answer might just come up surprisingly) but rather to let them affect you and what you are doing.

Questions, and especially the ones left unanswered, can be used as a driving force. They push you to explore and experiment, even if not directly or consciously. They leave the door of possibility open and therefore enable you to Wonder, Fuse, and Imagine

  • Use unanswered questions as a driving force.
  • Keep revisiting them and explore the possibilities they open even before a definitive answer is available.
  • Let the questions affect you and what you are doing, even if they are just used as a background.
Connect Unanswered Questions to Your Activities and Goals

The highest level of making creative use of unanswered questions is actively connecting them to your goals and your activities.

Don’t confuse establishing a connection with trying to find the answer to the question. The link you are looking for is meant to drive ideas and open possibilities and not necessarily provide answers to the origin question.

  • Make unanswered questions present in your day-to-day activities, projects, and goals.
  • The impact of these questions does not have to be explicit. Even if they just color the background, they have value.
  • Let the unanswered questions inspire you to explore possibilities in your tasks and projects.

examples

Example 1

Write down Unanswered Questions somewhere central so they will be visible for you and your team. These accidental (sometimes unconscious) reminders of the questions provide a subtle backlight for everything you do.

Example 2

From time to time, have a dedicated session to discuss Unanswered Questions. The goal of the session is not to come up with answers but rather to share insights. Any such insight might connect to something you are doing or have experienced in a different context. The insights are likely to get a life of their own.

Capture the insights in your Collective Mind-Pantry.

further exploration


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