You can't find the right answer if you're asking the wrong question
“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.”
~Sir Antony Jay
When problem-solving, it’s so easy to fall into the rut of uncreative thinking. We can focus so much on answers and solutions that we lose sight of the question. And if we’re asking the wrong questions, we’ll often end up with the wrong answers.
How creative is your thinking? When faced with a problem, do you immediately turn to the tried-and-true solutions that you’ve always used? Or do you open your mind to new ideas? A good way to do that is to start asking some right questions, like these:
• Why must it be done this way?
• What is the root problem?
• What are the underlying issues?
• What does this remind me of?
• What is the opposite?
• What metaphor or symbol helps to explain it?
• Why is it important?
• What’s the hardest or most expensive way to do it?
• Who has a different perspective on this?
• What happens if we don’t do it at all?
You get the idea—and you can probably come up with better questions yourself. Physicist Tom Hirschfield observed, “If you don’t ask, ‘Why this?’ often enough, somebody will ask, ‘Why you?’” If you want to think creatively, you must ask good questions. You must challenge the process.
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