Questioning Questions

June 2, 2011 — Posted by Al Shalloway

As an experienced coach I have found it useful to tell people what to do when I see they are doing something wrong. However, one of my staff told me that asking questions was the key to proper coaching. While I wasn't sure he was right, I figured I would try it and see. I mean, "why not?" So, on my next engagement, I was determined to not tell anybody anything, but rather to merely ask questions. Here's what happened.

At a meeting, one of the people discussed a mistake in the build process, so, I started with a question:

"How'd you manage that?" They mumbled something so I asked "What were you thinking?" I couldn't believe their response so I asked "Why'd you think that?" Their tone was making me think that this business of asking questions wasn't working, but I was resolved to continue, so when they answered I followed with "when could that possibly work?"

Anyway, as you might guess, this asking questions thing didn't work out too well. So, when I got back, I asked my associate –"where'd you get that brilliant idea?" "What were you thinking?"

This blog was co-conspirated with Amir Kolsky.

Now, you weren't taking this seriously, were you?

Alan Shalloway
CEO, Net Objectives

 

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.



        

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