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Flip Your Question for a New Perspective

When developing a winning strategy, you have to look at the situation from multiple angles. When I facilitate a strategy meeting, I'm asking a lot of questions to get at the heart of any situation and help determine the path forward. I find myself astonished from time to time when a question is initially asked you get one answer, but when flipped, you get a completely different outcome.

I'll give an example.

A question gets posed something to the effect of "What if we were to do XYZ?" (XYZ often representing a new idea, solution to a problem or a next step).

An initial response might be "no" (or whatever creative verbiage is used to communicate "thanks for the idea, but no").

Many may just leave the discussion (or lack thereof) as is and move on. Not me.

I see it as an opportunity to flip the question to make sure we thoroughly explore the proposed concept. Flipping the question could be asking:

"What would the outcome be if we didn't do XYZ?"

"What is preventing us from doing XYZ?"

"Why wouldn't we do XYZ?"

By flipping the question, you allow the group to gain a new perspective. It enables them to re-think the concept and further vet whether it has merit to move forward or not. I've seen many instances where had we cut the discussion short at the initial "no" response, we would have missed a great opportunity.

The approach to flipping a question can be applied far beyond the above scenario. A more well-known approach to flipping questions is in a competitor SWOT, asking about strengths then conversely weaknesses, and opportunities then conversely threats. You can apply the thought process of flipping a question in nearly any situation, but that doesn't mean it's always valuable or productive. You have to use good judgement on how and when to use so that you make the best use of everyone's time.

So, start flipping!


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