Failure and Learning
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Failure and Learning
All about reflection, improvement, leadership, failing
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How To Ask Good Questions: Skills You Need To Survive and Thrive in A Connected Age

How To Ask Good Questions: Skills You Need To Survive and Thrive in A Connected Age | Failure and Learning |

Beth Kanter's insight:

This article includes 10 skills to learn to be successful.   I'm focusing on the asking good questions:

"Good questions are ships that sail us into discovering lands and that can open up the opportunity to uncover things we would have never imagined... unless we asked."

Source: Robin Good


  • Asking questions is the highway to learning and understanding more about the world that surrounds you, about how it works and about how to get anywhere you want to go, physically or mentally.
  • Learning to ask good questions is also important because it trains you to evaluate the situation, to analyze its weak or unclear points and to see clearly where is the extra information that you do not have and need to know.


Learn and practice the use of the 5 Ws. These are questions whose answers are considered basic in information-gathering. They are often mentioned in journalism (cf. news style), research, and police investigations. They constitute a formula for getting the complete story on a subject.

  • Who is it about?

  • What happened?

  • Where did it take place?

  • When did it take place?

  • Why did it happen?

There are three main types of questions:

a) Factual

b) Interpretive

c) Evaluative

Source: Asking Questions - The Key to Engaging Students in Learning - LessonPaths

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How to Ask Better Questions

How to Ask Better Questions | Failure and Learning |

Asking One of your direct reports walks into your office looking for help: the rollout of the new line of Web-based products she is managing is falling behind schedule. All the prototypes have been create...

Beth Kanter's insight:

Asking good questions Framework.

The most effective and empowering questions create value in one or more of the following ways:

  1. They create clarity: “Can you explain more about this situation?”
  2. They construct better working relations: Instead of “Did you make your sales goal?” ask, “How have sales been going?”
  3. They help people think analytically and critically: “What are the consequences of going this route?”
  4. They inspire people to reflect and see things in fresh, unpredictable ways: “Why did this work?”
  5. They encourage breakthrough thinking: “Can that be done in any other way?”
  6. They challenge assumptions: “What do you think you will lose if you start sharing responsibility for the implementation process?”
  7. They create ownership of solutions: “Based on your experience, what do you suggest we do here?”

What not to ask 
Marquardt points out that, contrary to the business truism “There are no bad questions,” several types of questions can have a negative effect on subordinates.

Questions focused on why a person did not or cannot succeed force subordinates to take a defensive or reactive stance and strip them of their power. Such questions shut down opportunities for success and do not allow people to clarify misunderstandings or achieve goals. These questions include:

  • Why are you behind schedule?
  • What’s the problem with this project?
  • Who isn’t keeping up?
  • Don’t you know any better than that?
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