Strategic questions are a powerful technique to engage groups in innovative thinking, to develop strategy, to facilitate change, and build buy-in for new ideas.
Strategic questions lead us to reflect in ways that inspire movement. When we engage in conversations based on strategic questions we enter a space of “not knowing,” since really, many of the challenges we face are unprecedented and we cannot simply project what worked in the past. Strategic questions:
- Create movement and energy for change
- Dislodge old thought patterns and assumptions
- Broaden our sense of options
- Help us see the big picture and gain new perspectives on how to advance change
- Invite further learning
- Tend to evoke a deep response, often months later.
Strategic questions make people say, “That’s a great question. I haven’t thought about it that way before.”
Here are some examples of strategic questions:
- When you saw a major change happen here in the past, what actions and conditions led to that change? How might we create those conditions as we approach this change?
- What are the strengths and skills that I enjoy using that I can contribute most effectively here? What about this project makes me passionate, i.e., that I would be motivated to make this a priority for my time when faced with other competing demands?
- How could our organization provide this product or service in such a way that 6 billion other people on the planet could do the same thing and still leave us with a healthy planet and communities?
- Who could be allies we have not thought of?
- How could we tie the need for change on our initiative to an issue already getting attention, e.g., cost cutting is a focus so how can we tie our energy conservation project to support that goal?
The technique of Strategic Questioning was developed by the social activist, Fran Peavey. This link has more details.