; Masterful Questioning Debt to Depth.docx - Growth Team
Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out
Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

Masterful Questioning Debt to Depth.docx - Growth Team


  • pg 1
									                                        MASTERFUL QUESTIONING
                                 By Chavah Golden, CGolden@Many-Minds.com

1) Bringing Ourselves up from Debt to Depth

By Attending to Part 1™ Before Part 2


        In Debt
        The Realistic Person
        Why Intellectual Depth?


        Hanging in Mid Air?
        The Question Void
        Few Ask and Few Tell


        Going “Beyond Natural”
        Catching Ourselves in the Act
        The Perpetual Dilemma


        Unexamined Action
        The Necessary Question
        The Crossroad
        Intensive Care


        Firefighting
        Four Steps that Will Put the Corporate Firefighters Out of Business
        Benefits of Part 1™
        Your Questioneers


2) Sustainability

3) The Questioning

                                                                               Document1 11/30/11 p. 1
                                           MASTERFUL QUESTIONING
1) Bringing Ourselves up from Debt to Depth

By Attending to Part 1™ Before Part 2


In Debt

A person is in debt when the person owes more than he or she has. Today’s economy is teaching us this basic
lesson in a painful way. Much of the debt that is due to the economy is beyond our control. All we can do is wait it out.
There is a debt however, that we have complete control over, at any time and in any place.

This article will discuss the idea of intellectual debt – what it is intellectual debt, and how do we get out of it? A person
is in intellectual debt when his problem is bigger than his knowledge and ability to solve it. Intellectual debt is similar
to financial debt in that it has a currency. The difference is that financial debt is described by the currency of money
and intellectual debt is described to the currency of intellect. We use the currency of intellect every day to exchange
goods such as solutions to problems, proper decisions, sound plans, and innovative ideas. Whether we are parents,
kids, CEOs, consultants, or sales people, we buy and sell solutions, decisions, plans, and ideas all the time. A
decision eventually results in the action that one had deemed appropriate for the situation. As we know, there are
good decisions (ideas, plans, solutions) and poor ones. Poor decisions become poor executions, and they travel via
chain reaction to knock the wind out of a working system. It happens constantly.

A big problem with intellect is that that it has no fixed costs, no balance sheet, and no breakeven analysis. For most
of us, intellectual debt is unidentifiable and impossible to put a finger on. As a result, it is easy to get ourselves and
others into trouble with a misperception or lack of mental acuteness.

Misperception and lack of mental acuteness are a direct result of being in intellectual debt. Intellectual debt occurs
when a plan, idea, decision, or problem requires more perception and acuity than we have on our own.

The Realistic Person

This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is the realistic person who can admit what is true – that he or she has insufficient
intellect, acuity, and perception to solve every problem alone. It is possible however, to avoid some of the chain
reactions that we can inadvertently cause by our misjudgment. The way to avoid the chain reaction is to climb out of
debt. The way to climb out is to realize that we are in it, then to reveal it.

Intellectual debt can become increasingly revealed and recognizable to us when we become mindful, open, and
reflective. The greatest antidote to intellectual debt is discernment, which is realized by seeing and hearing ourselves.
This is a great start. If we resolve to transform our debt into depth, the first thing to learn is to suspend assumptions
(answers). Quite the opposite of what we usually assume, the wise person is not the one with the answers. The wise
person is the curious one, the one with questions to help him or her discern, who responds authentically from
listening, and who with fresh eyes and ears, allows perceptions to form and re-form.

Why Intellectual Depth?

Now we see how to transform intellectual debt into intellectual depth, but why? Intellectual depth is cumulative and
earns interest. It is activated by doing what we see needs to be done, and intentionally doing it well. This brings to
bear a reliable tool to sustainably implement ideas, solve problems, make decisions, and design plans. Reliability and
sustainability attract the intellect of a broad web of winners. Let us now consider suspending over spending.

                                                                                                   Document1 11/30/11 p. 2

Hanging in Mid Air?

Now let’s back up a bit, to two paragraphs ago. One might at first balk at the idea of suspending assumptions
(answers). Doesn’t suspending anything sound like a creating a deficit? We’re talking about getting out of debt.
Suspending sounds like “hanging in thin air.” Who would want to suspend what they “know” to be “true,” and stand
there not knowing? Consider this. How many people today need to figure out more than they have the tools to know?
It’s a whole new world – how to make money, how to run a company, how to raise productive children, how to be true
to ourselves, how to understand our spouses, our co-workers, and add your own. Who can even assume they know
how to do all of that?

Could it be that there is something that we are avoiding, which might be to our advantage to pay attention to? For
example, how many of us do not go on a given diet when we know we should? Even more so, how many people
whose very life depends on a diet actually change their eating habits? Of those who do change their diets, how many
persist and maintain? Surprisingly, a minority of people start and stick to a plan. In any situation, we might ask
ourselves what we are avoiding that would be to our advantage to pay attention to.

Imagine a man who sees a sweet, gooey, delicious-looking piece of cake waiting for him. Without thinking, he
assumes it is the ultimate answer to what he’s missing, and he eats it. Is suspending this assumption anywhere in
this man’s picture? Have you ever been asked by someone why you refuse to do something, which to that
“someone,” it seems obvious that you should do it, and in fact once you see it, it is clear to you that you must do it?

Has your answer ever been “No one ever asked me to” or, “I never really thought of it”?

The Question Void

“No one ever asked” and “I never really thought of it”, whether they are true or false, are common responses. These
responses indicate that there may be a question void. And think about it… not only did no one ask you, you didn’t ask

Why don’t we ask questions?

The obvious answer is that when a decision has been made, we don’t want to hear opposing opinions. It was hard
enough to arrive at this conclusion. We are independent, smart, and we know from our experience that this is the way
to go. It is far easier to just do it than to complicate things by involving others. Therefore, we go by our intelligence
and our gut feeling. We find more than enough justification and reinforcement for our conclusions, our assumptions,
and our answers, and we defend them with great passion.

An honest response might be, “I don’t want to hear more. I’m afraid that if I hear more, I’ll open a Pandora’s box and
have to start all over. Or perhaps it will call me to an action that I am not prepared to take.” In short, we all have a
threshold, a ceiling to what we want to hear. Depending on the situation, some of us have a high ceiling, and some of
us a low one, but at some time, we all have much that we’re afraid to know. Sometimes, we’re not even aware when
there is something we don’t want to know. Instead we assume we already know.

                                                                                                   Document1 11/30/11 p. 3
Few Ask and Few Tell

So what happens? Few ask and few tell. Thus, we make a decision alone, which affects ourselves and others. If
we’re lucky, it affects everyone in a good way. If not, it affects in a negative way. The affects continue all the way up
and down a chain in ways we cannot even conceive of. Without ample openness and questions, an assumption could
become a “fire” raging out of control.

I heard a story on NPR in August of 2009, where automakers were consistently seeing a tangled mess at the end of
the production line. Besides the final production being late, the parts didn’t work together as they should. The cars
being turned out were late and faulty. It became such a problem that everyone was called into a meeting. By asking
many, many tedious questions, it was discovered that the assembly people each made decisions on their own. One
would see a problem and fix it. His solution did not consider other factors in the manufacturing chain. The next guy
saw a problem (possibly caused by the first person’s “fix”), and he solved the problem as he saw fit. By the end of the
line, the car was wrought with mysterious faults with unknown origins. Lo and behold, the cars were held together by
band-aids. Each person had applied his favorite band-aid, none of which took into account the big picture.

                                                                                                 Document1 11/30/11 p. 4

When we are confronted by a pernicious problem, a natural inclination is to not ask and not tell, hoping it’ll go away if
we just do something. We become focused on a technical outcome or goal (as we should be), and as it grows, we
become relentless. Enters the pressure of time, and we become impatient. After a seemingly unbearable amount of
time, we want it done now. After sitting too long under pressure, our blinding aim becomes crossing it off of our
growing and nagging to-do list. How can we stop this potentially fatal chain of action?

Going “Beyond Natural”

By asking ourselves to ask, we are pushed to go beyond our natural inclination. One who asks looks afresh at every
turn. He or she is vigilant at every step. Take as an example, the “beyond natural” occupation of the cliff-walker. The
cliff-walker engaged by his “natural inclination,” focuses on the end. He focuses on getting to the other end of the cliff.
What is hardest for the naturally inclined cliff-walker? The hardest thing for the naturally inclined cliff-walker is turns.
Why is this? If he is focusing on the end and comes to a turn, there is a moment in which he can’t see the end. This
puts him in peril. He must instead focus on every moment. A competent cliff-walker on a cliff with turns must ask
questions and answer them simultaneously from moment to moment. He can never assume.

Catching Ourselves in the Act

How can we catch ourselves in the act of not asking? First we must want to catch ourselves not asking. If we achieve
the difficult task of catching ourselves in the act of (1) “not wanting to know,” (2) or “avoiding asking”, we can reach a
great depth. We can build resilience, reliability, and intelligence for the next decision, problem, idea, or plan. This is
the interest earned. Our courage to catch ourselves in the act adds to our cumulative intellectual depth, and it keeps
us out of debt.

So why don’t we catch ourselves? Could it be we don’t want to be seen and caught by others? Can you imagine just
being yourself in sight of your colleagues, admittedly not knowing, and furthermore, asking the questions that you
want to know the answers to, but you think are “asking dumb or politically incorrect questions?” Can you imagine
suspending the threat of stigma, and as a result, possibly inviting and having to face a painful backlash?

To add to our difficulty, just catching ourselves in the act is not enough to stop the chain of action! We also need the
will and resolve to be reflective and to examine that which we don’t want to know and which we have managed to
avoid asking.

Imagine that a CEO has caught herself in the act. She has aroused her courage, and she realizes that she has
chosen to make a strategic decision on her own. She sees that she has assumed that no one is engaged in the
problem, and that no one sees its urgency. Therefore, she has decided that she has no choice but to figure out what
the company needs and what she alone should do about it. Furthermore, she admits that she prefers assuming over
asking questions such as, “what is stopping people from feeling urgency about something so necessary?” or “what is
keeping specific people from performing?” Knowing that asking these questions will complicate the path to the
solution, but will make it lasting and sustainable, what should this courageous person do?

The Perpetual Dilemma

Deciding whether to just do something or to ask questions is a perpetual dilemma. Say for example a company’s
product has to get out the door. The is pressure is on operations to decide, solve, plan, and implement – fast. Or say
there is a sales person who is not performing. The pressure is on the manager to get the person to make calls and
follow up on leads before they get cold. Managers want to jump to execution, which we call skipping to part 2.

                                                                                                    Document1 11/30/11 p. 5

Unexamined Action

People who skip to unexamined action, choose to blatantly ignore Part 1™. Part 1™ requires suspending and the
annoying asking again and again. For some, this is an examination that takes far too long to even consider.
Therefore, for them, good enough is good enough. Skip the effort of Part 1™and go to the quick fix. “Don’t worry,
time will heal. It’ll be fine,” they reassure themselves.

Then comes reality. One who skips Part 1™and proceeds to the quick fix could encounter great, unimaginable
disaster. At the very least, their decision, solution, plan, or idea, by definition will be unsustainable and require
constant attention.

The Basic Question

The basic question becomes, “should I go ahead and Do, or should I suspend and Ask?” This is the crossroad
between deciding whether to go with the quick fix (part 2) or to go ahead with the arduous and scary Part 1™. This
crossroad is the ideal the time to ask questions, but even when far into the quick fix, it is not too late to ask. As soon
as one takes notice, he or sne can (and should) stop and go back to Part 1™. The bad news is, the farther the
progress is into part 2, the more difficult it is to suspend and go back.

The Crossroad

Now, back to the crossroad -- the question posed is, “should I go ahead and Do, or should I suspend and Ask?”

The decision is easy if the next and bigger questions are:

    1.   What would it take to do the right thing right?
    2.   Who needs to be involved?
    3.   What do I need to know to assure a sustainable the outcome?

Take as an example the idea of “fire fighters.” In a company, the “fire fighters” are the people who are constantly at
work applying band-aid solutions to problems caused by not paying attention. Someone might decide that “the
problem” is communication or fear or laziness or... The quick fix or knee jerk reaction would be “let’s get some
training, some really good training!” They call up the best communication or motivation trainers and ask them to come
fix the problem by training the staff in how to communicate or how to become motivated. In this example, there was
little thought. This quick fix training is really part 2. Fire fighters in companies often start with part 2. What happened
to Part 1™? “We don’t have time! The company is under siege by wildfires. The place is hot. We have little time or
patience for questions.” You know, the vicious cycle.

There were actual fires raging in Los Angeles in 2009. Almost two hundred thousand acres had burned at a certain
point. In the midst of this, two men decided to sit it out. As the fire raged closer, they had to resort to sitting in their hot
tub. Such an unexamined part 2 decision landed both men in an intensive care unit with critical burns. Who lost? --
The men, their families, the insurance company, the community, their friends, co-workers, and so on. Nobody asked
any questions – especially them!

                                                                                                     Document1 11/30/11 p. 6
Intensive Care

What intensive care is needed for some unexamined decisions that you are familiar with? Think Iraq for a start. Some
say we went to war based on unexamined information. Who wins with these decisions? Who loses? Once you are
aware of the problem, you will be able to perceive many examples of unexamined decisions and their lethal results. Is
saving a little time, money, and face worth the consequences of jumping to conclusions, and without proper thought,
taking an extreme action?



The metaphor of putting out fires is common in organizations. The impulse to put out a fire presumes that a problem
is raging out of control. Overheard today: “They (two lawyers discussing a case) are being stupidly stubborn because
they are afraid they will lose their clients. As a result, they are on the path to losing their clients.”

Four Steps that Will Put Corporate Firefighters Out of Business

By now we can agree on four steps in the following order:

    1.   Questions need to be asked (Part 1™).
    2.   The questions need to come from others, outside of the decision maker (Part 1™).
    3.   The decision maker would benefit from paying attention to and considering the insights.
    4.   The company would benefit from a decision maker who uses the insights to intelligently plant a foundation
         for part 2, the action.

Benefits of Part 1™

Questions asked, though they require more time and energy, and may cost more upfront, will most likely save much
more time and expense in the long run. Not only will money and time be saved, the implementation will need no
firefighters, will be sustainable, and will allow time and energy for strategic projects. Best of all, intellectual depth will
be accumulating and accruing interest for now and for the future.

Your Questioneers

ManyMinds™ (www.Many-Minds.com) will make it easy for you to ask the right questions and painlessly gather
insights that can immeasurably increase your perception, mental acuity. As a result, you can immediately deposit
depth into your intellectual bank.

NEXT: 2) Sustainability and 3) The Questioning

                                                                                                      Document1 11/30/11 p. 7

To top