What makes some collaboration and brainstorming workshops great — and others a drain? What makes some customer advisory board meetings thought-provoking, high-energy sessions, while others are a nice meal and friendly conversation?
Aside from having a clear purpose, the most important ingredient for success is asking good questions.
Think back on workshops and meetings that you have loved. What made them so great? My guess is open-minded people, a skilled facilitator, and great questions that you rarely have the opportunity to discuss with other smart people. And those great questions probably helped you see new ideas that got people excited
Here are some questions to consider as you frame up an agenda for your next collaborative session. They’re from “The Art of Powerful Questions: Catalyzing Insight, Innovation and Action” that you can download here from The World Cafe.
- Is this question relevant to the real work of the people who will be exploring it?
- Is this a genuine question—a question to which I/we really don’t know the answer?
- What “work” do I want this question to do? That is, what kind of conversation, meanings, and feelings do I imagine this question will evoke in those who will be exploring it?
- Is this question likely to invite fresh thinking/ feeling? Is it familiar enough to be recognizable and relevant—and different enough to call forward a new response?
- Is this question likely to generate imagination, engagement, creative action, and new possibilities or is it likely to increase a focus on past problems and obstacles?
- Does this question leave room for new and different questions to be raised as the initial question is explored?