Fearless Questions

I’d love to share a powerful technique I learned recently, listening to two incredible authors/researchers on innovation & leadership – Hal Gregersen (MIT) and Amy Edmonson (Harvard). Their talk was titled “Building Fearless Organizations by Asking Better Questions.” Fearless – like courageous. Asking Better Questions – like being curious. They said that by creating a culture in your organization where it is OK (and valued) to ask hard questions, you create an environment where people feel free to experiment (and that means fail sometimes).

The “Question Burst” is a technique somewhat like brainstorming. This is where the group agrees to ask nothing but questions for some period of time (like 15 minutes). This is really useful when we’re stuck and don’t know where to go next, or there’s disagreement in the group and new pathways need to be explored. This is even a valuable technique for you to use with yourself. If you’re facing a difficult challenge – not sure of what the right next move is – state your challenge and then allow yourself to ask questions about the challenge for a few minutes. There are a few rules though – no one is allowed to provide answers to the questions or do any explaining/grandstanding during the question period.

This technique is adapted from a very old (like 400 years ago) Quaker process called a “Clearness Committee.” This was a non-judgmental approach to helping someone come to their own decision, by asking that person to consider various questions. Interestingly, this is what a coach does. A coach doesn’t have YOUR answers – you have YOUR answers. The coach’s role is to help you elicit those answers – to ask questions that help you see the next step.

The questions you come up with will lead you to some new, and unexplored, roads. Go there.

Until next time,


If you are interested in exploring coaching, how it can transport you to the next level, email me and we’ll schedule a complimentary exploratory call.

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