The Third Lever in our series on Culture — questions
For years, my husband has told anyone who works with me that it’s never the first question. It’s always the third or fourth one that will get you. (Spoiler alert: I love questions.)
I know not many people do, but I do. I love asking them, lots of them. I love getting questions (as long as people are willing to really listen to my answer, give me time to think about the answer and want an honest answer in return). I love where questions take you – questions generate creative new ideas, challenge the way we think, stretch our belief system, and allow us a greater understanding of topics and people. Mostly, I love how much you can tell about a person based on the questions they ask, the questions they don’t ask and how well they listen to the answer.
I know most people hate questions. My friends and family have informed me of this many times. (Yes, they get the brunt of my many questions). Most people hate change – and questions are the catalyst for change. Questions bring things to the surface. Questions cause us to think about stuff differently – in ways that drive creative innovation. And that is why I believe “questions” are a contributor to what kind of business culture a company may have.
People talk about a culture of fear, or a closed culture, or a culture of apathy – none of these cultures support “asking questions”. None of them. So if you don’t see questions being asked – ponder on why. Are people afraid that they will be dismissed? Are people afraid they will get asked a question back and don’t want to be exposed? Do people just not care?
If you talk about a culture of openness, a culture one feels safe, a culture of engagement – all these cultures support “asking questions”. Lots of questions. You will see, feel, hear questions being asked all the time, everywhere, at all levels. They will be encouraged. We are fast to say “there are no dumb questions” – but do we act that way after we hear the question?
I challenge each of you – ask more questions and listen to the answers and ask some more questions. You will learn more and be able to make better and better improvements.