I have worked with corporations for over thirty years—both as an employee and an external organizational consultant—and have observed an increasing demand on work teams and individuals to find solutions, make decisions, and take action. This focus on action and results, woven into the fabric of our society, influences the amount of time we choose to allocate for exploring different perspectives, meaning, and possibility. Built into the landscape is an expectation of immediacy as the norm—e.g., packages “must” arrive by the next morning, and iPhone and Android users can Google anything, anytime, from any place. The “express” mentality now drives the pressure we experience in an accelerated world.
The tradeoff: In the whirlwind of “busy-ness” and swift decision making and action, time for reflection is often minimized. This reduction can have a significant impact on the outcome. Reflection time, for teams and individuals, provides a powerful opportunity to live in the question, to imagine, to innovate; for teams, it provides opportunity to wonder and discover together and to expand the range of possibility.
As someone who has historically sought closure on issues and decisions, I acknowledge that it might feel “messy” to some to live in the question. I like it when packages are tied up with neat little bows! Yet in thinking back about previous problem solving processes, some of my richest learning experiences and most effective outcomes grew out of a more protracted exploration that held open the time and space for reflection.
In my professional role, I rely on the power of questions to support my clients in their journey of discovery and growth. With teams, I often use an inquiry process to help them shift their focus from answers and outcomes to questions and discovery. The ground rules for the process help team members communicate through questions, taking time to suspend judgment and assumptions and expand their collective thinking. I’ve witnessed some amazing breakthroughs during this expansive process. Some team members find it awkward initially, because people are used to generating answers—not generating and staying in the questions; but they soon adapt and have meaningful dialogue.
With my individual coaching clients, I ask provocative questions to prompt them to look inward for their truth, their direction, and their strength…and to identify and challenge their core beliefs and thoughts stemming from those beliefs.
Questions serve to slow us down and allow us to shift from “doing” to “being” in the present moment. In the many present moments of our daily lives, is it possible to create a balance between speed and time for reflection, between action and inspiration? How might our lives, or our results, be different—what awareness and opportunities might we discover—if we choose to live more in the uncertainty of the question, to explore “what if” or “what else”?
The Kobb Team +1 713-398-0128
mk at kobbteam dot com