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Episode 60: Finding the Unasked Question

podcast Mar 07, 2023

If simply stating the future reality or making a plan to solve the challenge actually got us there then the journey from today’s reality to tomorrow's future would be easy. The unknown and often overlooked space is the gap between the current state and the future state. And too often we are unaware of the obstacles that we are about to hit on the journey from point A to point B. That’s where the unasked questions need to be asked. 

Finding the Unasked Question

When faced with a problem, a current reality that is not working the way we had hoped, we tend not to think about asking a question. Instead, our tendency is to resort to making a statement about our current reality or what we see as the solution. Things like:

“The problem is _________” “What we need is ________” “The solutions is __________”

 Any of these statements create a fact in our brain and trick us into thinking the situation is a fact and not a question filled with possibilities. To find the unasked question frame each of these statements into a question that opens the door to multiple options. 

Finding the Right Question

Instead of “What we need is ________” frame a question. “If we need _________, what is holding us back from getting it? Are there other needs that we have that we might not be noticing right now? How will meeting this need make a difference? What will it cost us to meet this need in time and resources? How realistic is it for us to be able to meet this need?

Asking the unasked question about the situation could reveal the deeper problem or deeper need. You could try asking things like, “How did it get this way? Why does it stay this way? What would it look like if it was working the way we intended?”

Anytime you find yourself facing a problem by making a statement, pause, turn to each other and ask: “Is there a question we should be asking instead?”

Finding Thinking Time

It is an intentional activity to step away and force time to find that unasked question. We need questions more than statements to move forward into options and possibilities instead of narrowing it down to a solution statement. 

Your goal in leadership and helping others lead well is to guide yourself and others in a process of finding the obstacles that stand in the way of your solution.  To do that you need to find the unasked questions. 

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