Question everything!

Last week I wrote about catalytic questioning, a concept derived by Hal Gregersen, a wise man who focuses on innovation, disruption, and questioning the norm in order to wreak havoc on the status quo.

I know. Some people say that “disrupt” is an over-used, cliche business term. I disagree. At any point in time, we are either disrupting or being disrupted. Which describes your company? And which would you rather yours be?

How do we disrupt? According to the video below from Gregersen’s talk at the SAP Executive Summit, there are two main things that all disruptors do:

  1. They think differently.
  2. They do things differently.

Not a real epiphany, right? But there are ties back to his concept of catalytic questioning, of course. How do you get to the point where you think and do things differently? Gregersen explains in the video, but at a high level…

  • Ask a lot of questions, i.e., provocative questions, questions that cause people to be uncomfortable
  • Question everything
  • Figure out which questions we don’t know we don’t know and start asking them; if we don’t, someone else will start asking them – and then we become the disrupted
  • If we don’t change our questions, we will not come up with a new solution
  • We’re not trying to destroy everything; we just want to know what we’re dead wrong about
  • Ask and identify: what’s working? what’s not? why? what’s surprising?

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. -Albert Einstein

I love that he asks about a question-centric culture and leaders. This is an important thing to consider and to develop. The post I wrote about a culture of curiosity echoes his sentiment. Encourage employees to ask questions, to question everything. You cannot evolve or advance as a business on the same thinking, the same processes, the same culture, the same everything that you’re doing today. And yet, this is where a lot of companies get stuck.

The same is true for the employee experience and for the customer experience. If you’re looking to make a transformation – a real, meaningful transformation – you’ve got to first understand the status quo or current state and then question why it has to be that way. You know your employees and your customers are doing that every day. Listen to them. And then ask yourself the hard questions. Ask yourself the right questions.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish. -Stewart Brand