Have you heard? The third week in March 2016, from March 13 to 19 (and including the anniversary of Einstein’s birthday on March 14th) is “Question Week.”
Which may immediately raise questions of your own, such as, What’s Question Week? And why should I care?
First, a bit of context: Since my book A More Beautiful Question came out in 2014, I’ve been traveling around to businesses, schools, government agencies, and various other organizations to make the case for the value of asking questions. As I discuss in my talks, questioning is often the starting point of innovation, learning, and growth. It’s an incredibly valuable yet underappreciated tool. And it’s one that may be more important than ever in these times of dynamic change—which require us to adapt, reinvent, and rethink, often by way of inquiry.
Most people I talk to tend to agree with this premise about the importance of questioning. But one big challenge that people mention is time. It takes time to stop “doing” and start questioning. Asking thoughtful, meaningful, “beautiful” questions—whether it’s about our businesses, our jobs, our children’s education, or just about any aspect of our lives—may require that we slow down and step back. It’s a process that calls for reflection, analysis, incubation of ideas. And for many of us living fast-paced lives, there simply is no place in the schedule set aside for “questioning.” (See this interesting related opinion piece by author Matthew B. Crawford (New York Times, 3/8/15) about how our thinking and reflection time is literally being stolen from us: The Cost of Paying Attention.)
A Designated Time to Stop and Question
Hence, Question Week—with the idea being, if there’s a period of time designated for questioning, maybe we’ll use that opportunity to try to do more of it. And maybe in the process, we’ll discover that questioning really is a useful and powerful thing that we should be doing all year-round.
In organizing this mini-movement, I gathered together a few fellow champions of questioning—organizations or individuals (such as the Right Question Institute, Ask Big Questions, Bob Tiede of Leading With Questions, and others) that are leading the way in encouraging people to ask more questions. Click here to get to know a little bit about each of these questioning advocates on the QuestionWeek.com site.
For those interested in picking up some questioning skills (or sharpening the ones you already have), QuestionWeek.com also features a number of links to easy questioning exercises and articles about practicing questioning. My hope is that these will be used, during this week and thereafter, in classrooms and workplaces. The articles and posts listed on the Exercise Your Questioning Muscle page explain why questioning is so important in business; why and how we should be emphasizing student questioning more in classrooms; and how the power of “beautiful questions” can transform our lives and the world around us.
Spreading the Word
If you want to take part in Question Week, start by visiting the site to learn more. You can also contribute to this awareness effort by spreading the word about Question Week and urging others to take some time this week to pause, step back, and ask questions.
Above all, take the opportunity to formulate some beautiful questions of your own (and share them with friends, family, colleagues, or with the world, via social media—I’m using the hashtag #QuestionWeek on Twitter). As an ambitious example of what one guy is doing with questions, read how entrepreneur Craig Oborn is in the process of launching Connect 52, an attempt to forge better connections among families or work teams by having groups answer one provocative or revealing question per week.
My wish for you is that some of the questions you think about during Question Week 2016 will stay with you and inspire you long after Question Week has ended. Beautiful questions can have that effect.