Our Primal Question
Getting better at asking the right questions at the right time to the right people may be the best way to manage that balance. We’re sure it didn’t originate with Henry Kissinger, but we heard it first from him. He talked about the challenges of decision-making under pressure. He drew a continuum: Perfect Knowledge at one end, to A Total Blank on the other. Wait for perfect knowledge, he explained, and we’ll have no action options left. With a total blank, we’ll have all our options, but no way of determining what’s the better choice, or even a workable one. Somewhere between the extremes is the point at which we’ve asked and answered enough of the right questions that we’re willing to act despite gaps in what we know.
It takes courage to ask important questions. In our cultures, there’s a tendency to favor those who seem to know the answer. We humans respond well to certainty. We like action. Questions suggest uncertainty. So perhaps the primal question is, “How important is it to us that we ask more and better questions just a little longer to get closer to better?” That’s the challenge in groups, teams and collaborations: can we abide enough uncertainty to ask enough of the right questions to increase the odds of getting it right the first time? That’s particularly important to collaborations, given that they are structurally delicate and may get only one try.
Want to think through how this might help you? Call us for a free telephone consultation 215-348-5277