Delay Finding the Answer


c.os.wonder.03

overview

All creative breakthroughs are the result of questions. If questions set you off on a journey, it is essential to make the most of it and avoid ending it too soon.

When you come across or think of a question and rush to find answers, let alone the right solution, your question turns into a definitive statement, and you close the door of opportunity.

To make the most of questions, you should first delay the search for answers. Enjoy the question — the unknown with the possibilities it opens — before limiting your opportunity space with potential solutions.

When you eventually start searching for an answer, don’t settle with one solution, and avoid picking the first one you find. Gathering many candidate answers does not only provide you with more options. It can help you discover new opportunities beyond just answering the original question.

actionable steps

When you ask (or being asked) a question, delay the search for answers — muse on the problem. Marvel at the universe of opportunities it opens.

When you start to gather answers, delay choosing the right one. Come up with multiple and diverse potential answers. The more diverse your candidate solutions are the chances for generating a creative insight increase.

Explore each potential solution even beyond the context of the concrete question you started with.

Cherish the questions that are left unanswered.

examples

Example 1

When you are curious about something (or someone asks you a question), don’t rush looking for the answer on the Web even if you are sure you can easily find it. If you don’t know the answer already, consider the question. Let your imagination come up with potential answers even if you don’t have any relevant knowledge in that domain. This is not a thinking exercise but rather an imaginative one.

Example 2

When you have a question you believe you know the answer to, pause, and try to come up with different answers. Even if you eventually pick your original answer, you will benefit from Wondering. And maybe, you will find a surprising better answer you didn’t expect.

related practices

further exploration


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