Continuous Improvement: The Need for Better Questions

Successful Continuous Improvement needs better questions
A better question can
lead to a better answer.
One of the discussions I find myself in on a regular basis is around the quality of questions. Depending on what kind of question you ask can affect the type of answer you will receive.

Intuitively this makes sense but, from the conversations I have, does not appear to be a common practise.

An area where this type of situation often arises is during meetings about continuous improvement projects. When there is a lack of clarity around a subject we often accept the answers we receive and act upon them accordingly, as if they were the gospel. By reflecting upon both the question and the answer and how you feel about both elements will help you to determine whether a better question needs to be asked.

We can tighten the focus of our questions, or we can relax them.

We can ask open ended questions, or clarify specifics with closed questions.

We can shorten or lengthen the time period the question refers to.

We can include or exclude factors from our questions to alter the perspectives of the answers.

We can choose to try again and ask better, and more illuminating, questions.

If you are struggling with your continuous improvement projects then it might be worth planning some different questions for your next meeting, or being willing to be more flexible during an upcoming meeting and re-state certain questions until you have experienced an 'aha' moment.

Giles Johnston
Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

P.S. If you want a simple framework for helping your continuous improvement projects to flourish then check out our guide, available at Amazon, called 'Continuous Improvement'.