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 â€¨organization?
Holman: If I were to pick on practice that is simple to apply and powerful in its affect, Iâ€™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, thereâ€™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 canâ€™t do, what the problems are, what isnâ€™t possible. Such conversations provide an endless source for practicing the art of the question. When someone says, â€œThe problem is x,â€ ask, â€œWhat would it look like if it were working?â€ If someone says, â€œI canâ€™t do that,â€ ask, â€œWhat would you like to do?â€
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.