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The Trouble With Answers

May 20, 2015

Bruce Kramer by Jennifer SimonsonThe trouble with answers is that they almost always close off any other possibilities. I usually have answers — especially when I’m not “on my game.” If I don’t, I work hard to derive them from the problem space. I often get frustrated if I can’t find an answer to a question. But when I’m on my game, I have the energy to live with the question for a long time and therefore I don’t close off creativity with answers.

As an educator I had learned the difference between opening to possibilities through questions, and closing creativity with answers.Bruce Kramer

It’s hard work to remain with the questions; with the mysteries. But answers do in fact close things down. I find this to be true in life in general as well as business in particular. As soon as we decide on a course of action, a business strategy, we have by definition shut down other alternatives — at least temporarily. I like to counter this little challenge by continuing to ask questions. They are not designed to take us off track because it is critical that we execute on our strategy. Rather, the inquiries are designed to question our assumptions and test them as best we can, as we go, so we can correct course if necessary. After all, things change and in continuing to question we can remain open to creative possibilities.

What’s your culture? Do you allow folks to continually  question or do you look at questions as a challenge to your positional authority? If we allow continuous questioning of our assumptions, not our decided strategy directly, then we will discover any poor assumptions or changes in the internal or external environment that might necessitate a change of course. I agree with the late Mr. Kramer – there is a big difference between questions opening our minds to possibilities and closing off creativity with answers.

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