Questions are like furniture. They are in our environment but we often don’t pay attention to them until someone asks something and grabs our attention. For Simone, a woman whose story is featured in Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change, that question was: “Before I was born a child passed away….what happened?” That question asked to her father, in a simple school assignment, unlocked a story that forever changed the way Simone saw her parents. “Ask More” is about tapping into the power of questions, just like Simone, for better solutions.
What is Ask More About?
Most of us realize the importance of questions. We ask questions to find directions to find the restroom, to make requests (like “Can I get a double latte?”), or to figure out our world (“Why didn’t she call back?”). Questions can function on a much deeper level, however. It is this deeper level that Ask More wants to reach. At this level, questions have the power to create or limit solutions, often with critical consequences.
Ask More is packed with lots of examples of seemingly simple questions working at this deeper level. One example is General Colin Powell’s use of eight questions (known as “The Powell Doctrine”) to determine whether to proceed with a military action. General Powell used this set of eight questions to determine his actions in two wars, the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War. He asked the same questions for each war but ignored some of the answers. In other words, Powell’s actions in war were directly tied to the questions and answers that he chose to follow.
Likewise, the questions and answers we choose direct how we address a problem. In some cases, questions can be used to determine a patient’s probable diagnosis, create social policies, discover medical breakthroughs, or determine why customers don’t buy your product. We know this intuitively but we tend to focus on the solution. In the world of today where answers can be obtained literally in seconds, this pressure to have solutions will become more visible. “Ask More” is a book that reminds us that our focus shouldn’t always be on finding the right solution. Our focus should be on asking more questions that lead us down the right path. In the process, we might gain more knowledge than a quick search engine result could ever provide.
Author Frank Sesno is an educator, the director of the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs and creator of Planet Forward, an environmental and sustainability news site. Sesno is also the former host of “Late Edition”, a CNN public-affairs talk show.
What Was Best About Ask More?
The best part of Ask More is the down-to-Earth way that Sesno introduces the art and craft of questioning, a subject that most of us take for granted. The book uses stories to demonstrate the power of questions across all disciplines, whether you are in government, in a patient’s room, in medicine, or on the battlefield — for a variety of different purposes. The questions used in these stories aren’t designed to be elaborate. They are designed to be strategic and collaborative, the depth of questioning Sesno hopes his readers achieve.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
Sesno readily admits that Ask More is not prescriptive in nature. His focus is on helping readers understand why they need to ask good questions. The book doesn’t go into a lot of detail about which questions to ask for a specific situation. Instead, it is more of an open-ended discussion on the power of questioning rather than a step-by-step guide for busy readers who just want a quick checklist. More instruction on how to integrate good questions into a businesses’ processes (especially in a book dedicated to that purpose) might be even more helpful for business owners.
Why Read Ask More?
Ask More is a perspective-shifting book from which any reader can benefit. For leaders, it can serve as a reminder of the important assumptions underlying a plan. The book encourages readers to consider the underlying questions behind their assumptions. It is not exclusively focused on business, but it doesn’t have to be. The fact that the book focuses on various disciplines besides business demonstrates that the art and skill of questioning is applicable to various situations. Asking good questions shouldn’t be limited to the workplace. Likewise, asking good questions shouldn’t only occur outside of the workplace, either. The book’s memorable stories help to lock in that strong and necessary message for a world where solutions seem to be obtained faster and faster each day.
This article, “Ask More Explores the Extraordinary Power of Asking Good Questions” was first published on Small Business Trends