From an interview with my dear friend Peggy Holman on enhancing creative leadership:
Q: What is one practice that people could start applying today to bring more creativity into their work or their business organization?
Holman: If I were to pick on practice that is simple to apply and powerful in its affect, I’d say: welcome disturbance by asking questions of possibility. Creativity often shows up in a cloak of disruption. It makes sense when you stop and think about it. If there were no disruption, there’d be no reason for change. And change opens the door to creativity.
Great questions help us to find possibilities in any situation, no matter how challenging. Here are some of their characteristics:
- They open us to possibilities.
- They are bold yet focused.
- They are attractive: diverse people can find themselves in them.
- They appeal to our head and our heart.
- They serve the individual and the collective.
- What question, if answered, would make a difference in this situation?
- What can we do together that none of us could do alone?
- What could this team also be?
- What is most important in this moment?
- Given what has happened, what is possible now?
Some tips for asking possibility-oriented questions:
1. Ask questions that increase clarity: Positive images move us toward positive actions. Questions that help us to envision what we want help us to realize it.
2. Practice turning deficit into possibility: In most ordinary conversations, people focus on what they can’t do, what the problems are, what isn’t possible. Such conversations provide an endless source for practicing the art of the question. When someone says, “The problem is x,” ask, “What would it look like if it were working?” If someone says, “I can’t do that,” ask, “What would you like to do?”
3. Recruit others to practice with you: You can have more fun and help each other grow into the habit of asking possibility-oriented questions. But watch out: it can be contagious. You might attract a crowd.
Those last three practices are terrific.