Most companies hold brainstorming sessions that identify solutions, but Hal Gregersen, executive director of the MIT Leadership Center and coauthor ofThe Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, suggests holding “question-storming” sessions that think of nothing but questions about a problem for a given period of time.
“When people care about the issue, when they have thought a lot about the issue but they are stuck, that’s the point at which it’s perfect to step back and say: ‘Okay, question storming time,’” he says.
Have your team generate at least 50 questions about the problem. At about question 25, Gregersen says it will stall. “I have watched this a hundred times around the world,” he says. “People say: ‘I don’t have any more questions, I am stuck.’ Keep going, because it’s that pass forward that can sometimes give you some of the greatest questions.”
Question storming a long series of questions gets you closer to the right questions that will give you the right answer, says Gregersen. “And that’s where question storming complements traditional brainstorming,” he says.