Apparently today is designated ‘ask a stupid question day’.
And that made me wonder is there ever such a thing as a stupid question? Poet EE Cummings said: “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”
Yet I know that’ I’ve definitely asked something that might sound astoundingly stupid (beyond the classic call to IT, why won’t my computer work? To which we all know the answer…) I’ve often thought that it’s better to be the most curious, interested person in the room rather than sitting there and believing you’re the smartest person. Someone described it to me recently in one of our training sessions as better to be a ‘learn it all’ rather than a ‘know it all’.
And we’ll never learn anything if we’re afraid to ask the question to begin with, whether that’s by researching it or asking someone who might know.
So ‘Ask a Stupid Question Day’ encourages you to overcome your fears and opening yourself to learning by asking your stupidest questions. Asking questions is such an important part of the learning process, and it’s important that we encourage kids to feel comfortable asking any sort of query too.
So today instead of brainstorming, try question-storming and admitting that you might not have the beautiful answer (yet) but you might just have a beautiful question.
“Understanding a question is half an answer” Socrates
The Phoenix checklist is apparently a list of questions developed by the CIA (as you may imagine this is quite hard to verify) to help problem-solve. Here are 10 of our favourites from their list:
1. Why is it necessary to solve the problem?
2. What benefits will you gain by solving the problem?
3. What is the unknown?
4. What is it you don’t yet understand?
5. What isn’t the problem?
6. Should you draw a diagram of the problem? A figure?
7. Can you separate the various parts of the problem? Can you write them down? What are
the relationships of the parts of the problem?
8. Have you seen this problem before?
9. Suppose you find a problem related to yours that has already been solved. Can you use it?
Can you use its method?
10. What are the best and worst-case scenarios you can imagine?
If you want to find out how to tackle your creative challenges, asking questions and get better at problem-solving join one of our training courses – try the SCAMPER workshop – or book an in-house creativity training course. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org