02 March 2006

A questioning toolkit

Some things to consider adding to your questioning toolkit:

Essential Questions are at the heart of the search for truth. "What kind of person do I want to be?"

Subsidiary Questions are families of smaller questions which lead to insight about essential questions. "What's the best and worst that could happen?"

Hypothetical Questions explore possibilities and test relationships. They begin "what if..."

Telling Questions are highly focused and targeted, to provide sorting and sifting during the gathering or discovery process. "In similar situations, what has been the result?"

Planning Questions ask how you will structure your search. "Where should I look to find..."

Organizing Questions structure your findings into categories. "How should we structure this?"

Probing Questions are deep and exploratory, like archaeology tools. They are based on logic, intuition, and sometimes good old "trial and error."

Sorting & Sifting Questions filter out extraneous information to help you find what's meaningful and relevant. "Is this reliable? What's worth keeping?"

Clarification Questions convert fog into meaning. "What is meant by..."

Strategic Questions make meaning. "Am I asking the right questions?"

Elaborating Questions follow the trail. "What is the next step?"

Unanswerable Questions may never be answered, but they can illuminate in themselves. "What is friendship?"

Inventive Questions turn things upside-down or inside-out. "What if we looked at this from the opposit perspective?"

Provocative Questions challenge the status quo or conventional wisdom. "What if our assumptions are wrong?"

Irrelevant Questions divert us from the task at hand -- and that is their beauty! Truth almost never appears where logic would expect.

Divergent Questions kick off from a home base which is known. "If X is true, what implications can you draw? What about exploring Y?"

Irreverent Questions explore off-limits or taboo territory. "Does the emperor have any clothes on at all?"

Read more in the Questioning Toolkit.

Thanks Maish!

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