Stop looking for answers, start looking for questions

We habitually look for answers to our challenges, the ‘silver bullet’ that will solve our problems. Tossed as we are on the waves on uncertainty we cast around frantically to find a lifeboat and an easy passage to safety.

If only life were that easy, eh? Well, it’s not. There aren’t any simple answers because we are trying to solve complex problems – if there was a simple answer then they’d be simple problems. What’s more, they are YOUR complex problems, framed by your (or your team’s) situation, personality, experience, skill etc.

You can use others’ experience, their models and concepts, but you have to apply them to your unique situation and find your answers. You do that by asking questions, hard ones. And answering them with honesty and rigour.

This desire to find the easy route, to get ‘the answer’ from someone else, is strong and persistent and MUST be resisted. For example, I was struck by this article “Mind the dogma about agile and lean” , bemoaning the way that people are rigidly applying these methodologies. Now, the foundation of these approaches are to “be adaptable, embrace change and learn as you go what works for you and your team”. But so strong is the urge to follow a plan, to apply process rather than thinking, that they are being turned on their head and becoming dogma – the opposite of what was intended.

So stop looking for answers. It seems easier but it’s illusory. The ones you need aren’t out there.

Start looking for questions, and you will the find the answers you need. It may appear harder to start with but it’s the only way.

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