Brainstorming has developed a fraught reputation, perhaps deservedly so. When groups of people are thrown together and expected to come up with original ideas, there is often too much pressure to be creative—resulting in ideas that are anything but.
But what if brainstorms were designed to generate questions, not ideas? It’s an approach that’s being touted these days by a number of advocates, myself included. And while it may seem counterintuitive (Who needs questions? We need answers!), encouraging people to formulate lots of questions around an issue or problem can lead to deeper analysis and a better understanding of that problem—which, eventually, can yield smarter ideas on how to tackle it.
I wish I could remember where I read it so I could give the author credit1, but every day I don’t ask my daughter what she did today. I ask her what questions did she ask.
- Looks like the phrase came from the Nobel laureate in physics Isidor I. Rabi’s mother.