This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Questions again - it's how we learn


I am really seeing a lot of interest around the idea of asking and responding to questions lately. Questions are how we learn and do research. Why don't we do more with them, instead of following rigid processes associated with actions?

Two ideas arose yesterday. On a KM mailing list, someone posted a series of thoughts (as questions) about why we don't do a better job of thinking about questions in our organizations. More specifically, why do we spend so much time on activities that don't support people's natural desires to ask and answer questions. Many of our formal training programs are all about teaching people how to do it themselves, rather than doing things together. (Our formal education & training systems do a decent job of developing domain knowledge, which is a great starting point for the questions.)

In a phone discussion yesterday I discovered a new way to think about research programs. Research is all about answering questions, but the traditional way to think about the research "process" is as a sequence of activities that lead to the final result. So people who want to improve the process focus on the activities. But why not focus on the real aspect of the process: answering questions about whether the proposed idea is going to work. This leads you down a completely different direction for the research process.

[Photo: "Question!" by Stefan Baudy]

IBM and their internal social business

Quotes: questions