Delay Finding the Answers
This Domain-Level Guide is designed to be used based on the Core Model. Please refer to the Delay Finding the Answers Core Practice before exploring this guide.
Thinking in Questions is a gateway to multiple playgrounds full of opportunities. The natural tendency to come up with a definitive answer as soon as possible, which is even more dominant in the organizational context, will prevent you from utilizing the potential embedded in each of the questions.
Numerous creative insights and opportunities can be discovered in the space you create to play with the question before answering it and playing with the answers before rushing to use them. The more time-bounded your challenge is, the less trivial it is to create this space and enjoy it. However, when you manage to do so, each answer you will eventually develop is likely to have greater unexpected value.
Turn Questions into a Playgrounds
Most questions asked in the organizational context require an immediate answer. Responsiveness is often a desired quality, but it should be constantly balanced with the benefit of playing with the question before rushing to seek, let alone choose an answer.
One of the most effective ways to Turn Questions into Playgrounds is to delay the automatic tendency to use solution-oriented resources. When most of the questions were already answered by someone somewhere, using these resources too early kills the joy of not knowing and exploring the question space before walking into the solution space.
- Explore the question before attempting to find an answer.
- Even if an answer comes to mind during this exploration, push it aside. Create a space for playing with the question without a need to have an answer.
- Avoid rushing to use solution-oriented resources (like web search and knowledgebases). While they might come in handy later, they will not allow you to make the most of the question.
- Invite different people from diverse backgrounds to explore the question with you. Each of them can take the exploration in a different direction.
Always Look for a Second Answer (and beyond)
The same modern instinct that sends us to find answers too quickly pushes us to storm on and use the first answer that seems to address the question. However, in most cases, this first answer is not the most effective one and not the solution that embeds the most significant value.
Only when you continue the search and come up with additional answers can you form a more comprehensive view of the value of each option and pick the one that serves you best. It is the comparison between different solutions that enables you to see each of them more clearly.
- Don’t settle for one answer. Always look for other possible solutions.
- Collect as many answers as possible and don’t dismiss answers that seem farfetched. Even if these solutions prove irrelevant in the context of the concrete challenge, they can open up new opportunities for future use.
- Evaluate the answers not just in the context of the question but compared to each other.
- Even if two solutions seem equally effective, consider the broader impact and value of each.
Turn Answers into Playgrounds
Sometimes, a solution can become a game-changer, not because of its value in the context of the original challenge, but thanks to the unexpected value it has in the broader context (or a different context altogether).
Even when an answer emerges and just before applying it, consider it in a broader context. Make the most of the potential it embeds and explore where else you can utilize it.
- Explore a candidate solution in contexts beyond the original question or challenge.
- Generalize the answer and examine its applicability in a broader context.
- Find unexpected value in the solution.
When facing a challenge with no immediate solution, explicitly define some time to explore the challenge before trying to come up with the answer. By making this exploration an inherent part of the plan, you might reduce the stress and allow yourself and your team to play with the question.
When you start thinking about answers, define an interim goal to come up with as many answers as possible without prejudging them or dismissing them as not feasible. Evaluate them only after you have a diverse and extensive enough collection of potential solutions.