The power of a great question in business!


The power of a great question in business!Today I was sent a link to a TED video on the power of asking better questions. It was mind blowing! Here was an esteemed medical doctor and expert in immunology talking about diabetes and obesity, and he was saying that he got it wrong!

That he got it wrong with a patient and the whole medical establishment has it wrong when it comes to obesity.

Imagine how many people that video will upset. Powerful people too. Doctors, surgeons, and all the big pharma companies.

This guy is brave!

... and possibly right.

He was talking about how much we bias ourselves when we approach things from a certain perspective, i.e. when we fail to be 'open minded', and how much that can erode our problem solving abilities.

Human beings have a natural desire to prove themselves right, it upsets us to be wrong.

These days, more then ever, there is a need to ask better questions, before we reach for a well tried and doled out solution, that quite obviously doesn't work.

For probably the first time in history we have the capacity to assume less and know more.

The advent of big data has meant that data is everywhere, and growing. Whole business philosophies now revolve around it and companies all around the world are creating strategy based on it. Case in point is the technology industry's "Big Fish Games" who last year restructured the entire organisation, including their leadership team, based on big data.

The way human beings engage with information, particularly in solving complex problems, is my fascination and one common factor has always been to question your assumptions. Good complex problem solvers are constantly open to the idea that what they just assumed was very wrong indeed!

SME's can particularly benefit from making less assumptions and exploring data, especially if you deliver something very original. Or when there is no way to copy a business or marketing model.

In this, I have to say, I am a big fan of the LEAN startup series of books, including LEAN analytics. By designing mechanisms for collecting data about your business as you grow and change you find the darndest things, things that can drastically improve your approach to market.

...and drastically improve the questions you ask in your business!

So take a moment and think, what decision did you make today that might have been based on assumption? That might have been made better with more data? That might have been better if you stopped to ask a better question instead?

It all begins in your head, can you be truly open minded?

Dr Louise Metcalf

Associate Lecturer at

Internationally published leadership expert. One of the top 100 Sustainability Leaders in the World (ABC Carbon, 2011, 2012). BA (Hons in Psych), Masters of Applied Psychology Organisational, MBA, PhD, Member APS College of Organisational Psychologist, membership of Academy of Management. Louise has decades of experience in the field of organisational psychology and general psychology. She is a highly respected leadership and change management consultant in Australia

Comments (2)
Roland Hanekroot

Roland Hanekroot, Founder at New Perspectives Business Coaching

You speak with wisdom... I am getting less and less interested in answers actually... more and more interested in questions... I mistrust people who tell me they have "the answer" or a series of them... Living in the uncertainty of questions is much more useful, much more real... who was the TED talk by?

Ling Lee

Ling Lee at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Great article! I read about a similar sort of idea in David McRaney's 'You Are Not So Smart'. I highly recommend this book. It made me realise how we are ALWAYS deluding ourselves.