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Thanks a lot John bringing up an issue that follows me for quite some time, "Asking the right questions in a gentle way".

Asking questions in a production/logistics context has become my second nature, due to my work as a lean consultant. However often these questions only tackle immediate and rather local challenges.

Much more relevant are the questions that touch not only others, but the greater context, and where we are going (as individuals, groups, organizations, and society in general).

Concerning your four questions, I'd like to answer (and perhaps opening up the need for new questions) here:

A1 - (a) how can organizational learning put into practice in established organizations/institutions? (b) what are the underlying educational interventions to achieve that? (c) how can we establish spaces where people from diverse disciplinary, cultural, gender and age can strive to their inner strengths?

A2 - since 2007 when I started on blogging about a lean conference I ran in Dresden I am blogging, http://leanthinkers.blogspot.com http://BizDesignDD.blogspot.cocm http://BlueFuture2012.blogspot.com and I am active on various social networks where I put out beacons that touch my passions (art, science, technology, lean, system dynamics, social innovation)

A3 - honestly this answer I can't give, still in the learning phase, prototyping, or pivoting (as Eric Ries , creator of the Lean Startup movement would say), http://bit.ly/SingularityUniversityGSP14 just my latest one trying to find out connection points where others can see value for themselves when they support me, and the visions I am working on. I am creating new questions for myself with every experiment!

A4 - as a boundary spanner I practice this but its effectiveness can be largely increased (only learned about this role during a conference in 2006 when someone told me her work story, and it sounded very much like mine - being the facilitator or catalyst to bring the right people together in an organization or community to achieve great things or solve the most complex challenges). HTxA, a digital PR agency (in the making) for exponential technologies on the edge between arts, science, and technology is meant to be the next step improve effectiveness - and still I am learning.


Thank you!


I appreciated the post and questions and featured this on the Employee Engagement Network Facebook page. I also appreciated the comment and story from Bob Jacobson. I will ponder the excitement of exciting questions. Thank you. I am reminded of Neil Postman criticism of education many years ago when he stated: "Children enter school as question marks and leave as periods." I will re-install the question mark.


Thanks, John, this is exactly what I needed to read today.

Timo Hämäläinen

Thanks for your insights John! I have studied "wicked policy problems" that seem to have become more important in recent years due to growing socio-economic specialization and complexity and the current historical transformation of our societies. These problems tend to involve the characteristics of complex adaptive systems and fundamental uncertainty that challenges the established cognitive frames, answers and policy approaches. They call for collaborative learning and reframing processes and leadership that facilitates these processes. Unfortunately, as you point out, many people expect and are used to being given ready answers and solutions in the hope that these would alleviate their personal uncertainty. Moreover, the traditional "evidence-based" policy making and planning approach assumes that policy problems are well-enough understood (i.e. we have the right interpretive frame) and the only thing that is needed is more information and analysis. However, if we are increasingly dealing with highly complex and uncertain systems, we need a new leadership and policy paradigm that facilitates collective learning processes, decentralized reponsibility and mutual adjustment as well as systemic goals and direction. As you point out, established frames, expert advice and policy solutions will be increasingly problematic.

Bob Jacobson

In an increasingly crowded world presided over by small, highly consolidated networks of power, an individual's influence is bound to become constrained. I'm reminded of the character Pascali, the Ben Kingsley figure in John Dearden's outstanding film, Pascali's Island.

A small man, Pascali is a Maltese mongrel living on an unnamed Greek island still run by the Turks. He observes everything, even concocts his own conspiracies, then compiles these into missives that he regularly sends to the Parshah in Istanbul. He never knows if they are read or not, but he gets a small bag of gold coins every so often for his service. Pascali has nightmares of walking through dusty warehouses where his missives are stashed, unread, unremarked on, certainly not acted upon. In his most recent nightmare, they come crashing down on him, burying him in thoughts unshared.

And then one day, his friends are rounded up, made suspects from his missives, and Pascali himself is on the run from Greek insurgents who know better than he does of the dangers he's created.

What consultant or advisor hasn't felt this way? For that matter, what original thinker? And you know -- they're right. You're right: in the face of overwhelmingly concentrated global ideology and an over-abundance of social noise, all we have left are questions. Thank you for sharing this, John.


John - how prescient! this was a topic of so many of my skypes today - from afghanistan to providence to california - the need to learn how to ask great questions that would lead to impact - that by truly listening and understanding, by 'rushing to discover' instead of 'rushing to solve' we can hone our ability to become great at asking questions. Almost verbatim! And the more you 'practice' asking questions, and listen and learn from the responses, you learn how to ask good questions even more - thank you!!! as usual, serendipitous timing - deb

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