The Right Question is the Best Answer

Peter Jones Dialogic Design, Wu Wei

Recent Designing with Dialogue sessions (at OCAD’s Strategic Innovation Lab) have led to a series of inquiries into collective thinking with questions. We initiate dialogue with a question. At its best, dialogue continues with and ends with more questions. The right question has more power than the right answer. The right question is the best answer to an inquiry. A powerful question has the ability to focus personal and collective thinking, energy, orientation, and participation. In a collective context, such as for an organization or team, the ability to focus perspectives and thinking is known as leadership. A collective inquiry distinguishes the context of dialogic leadership from individual leadership. All participants own the questions and the responses in a dialogue, creating a shared capacity for understanding and action. However, when people “follow” a leader’s own framing of a problem, their ability to identify with, reflect, and own the problem is limited. When a group has collectively reflected and reframed a problem through dialogue, they all own the inquiry and understand their collective perspective. People internalize the meaning, and the conversation …