Good and meaningful questions evoke our curiosity, deepen our reflection and help us understand how things are and evolve. This post shares three ways of asking questions: The childrens’ way, Columbo’s one more thing and the innovator’s research question.


“A thoughtful question often goes directly to the heart of the matter and ignites the creative mind to newer greater ideas.”
John Reyes – shared by SwissMiss

I love good questions. I collect them and store them in lists. Questions make me think and rethink. Questions open up. Questioning is discovering.

Good questions:

  • are thought-provoking
  • are a motor for discovery
  • lead to other questions
  • unpack different perspectives
  • create many answers

And here some useful question-led enquiry approaches:

The childrens’ way

Children are natural question experts. They are not easily satisfyied They master the art of keeping asking: “Why?” followed by “Why precisely?”  (read the blog from Constantin Seibt: Wie man das Unbekannte im Bekannten entdeckt, German only). This insisting is the trick that brings real discovery and shows how things are connected.

Columbo’s one more thing….

Columbo, performed by Peter Falk, was the police detective in the American TV series of the same name. After questioning a suspect he often turned around in the last moment before leaving to ask: Oh…. one more thing…Then the crucial question came.

The innovator’s idea accelerator

Jeffrey J. Davis was inspired by Steven Johnson’s video “Where good ideas come from”.  And he formulated two sets of questions. He combines ideas in a refreshing way making space for new approaches and thinking:

  • What if…? What if – a current problem – could be solved to a certain degree?
  • I think…. – current technology – could also be useful for – a different problem or application

Referring to the domain of sharing and learning I would formulate these two questions:

  • What if organisations would share failures and challenges on the internal failure learning blog without shaming and blaming but for more and in-depth learning?
  • I think Café style meeting rooms with easy chairs, coffee tables and fruit bowls would make many meetings more creative, efficient and fun.

My lesson: don’t stop too early asking “And why precisely”?

What are your favorite questions challenging your inspiration?

Further links