New Questions and Fresh Conversations
What’s Gone Well Today | New Questions and Fresh Conversations to Mobilize our Knowledge: A Guest Blog Post by Christopher Bowers
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Have you ever noticed that asking the right questions is more important than having the right answers? In fact, quality of your day, your life is shaped by the quality of questions we ask ourselves and others. New challenges demand new questions and fresh conversations.
What’s Gone Well Today is a new meme designed to help create empathetic communities and organizations. The tools we created include 18 metaphors that can be used a number of ways. They range from Building Momentum to Taking Risks, from Breaking Out to Developing Intimacy. We’ve drawn on some major thinkers like Covey, Glasser, Alder and Senge, Jaworski, Flowers & Scharmer as well as on the Noetic Institute researchers Schlitz, Vieten and Amorok and Paul Gossen at Business Transformed.
We’ve developed a deck of cards with each card being a self contained guide to each metaphor. This includes the theory, a brief set up for using the metaphor with others, and four to six questions that can unlock great responses and conversations.
Our current approach is to carefully select individuals for three session workshops to learn and apply the eighteen metaphors. We find that the value is not only learning how to use the tools, but in developing connections with the others in the room. In many cases the resources and relationships that people discover enable them to move forward on projects in ways they would not have been able to do before.
Another workshop is called “Your Advisory Board: WGWT Style” This two and a half hour session allows individuals to briefly share a project or initiative they are working on, and the respond to the excellent questions that the others in the room come up with. Again, we emphasize how to come up , and ask great questions.
Our workshops, our process have been described as ‘the new socializing’ for busy people who frankly would rather not waste their time on small talk, with questions that often don’t go anywhere ( like ‘How you doing?’) We look at how to set up a question, even if you only have a couple of minutes or less. Setting the intention is a key. Another essential factor is selecting the context for the question for the question and asking it in the fewest number of words. The final piece in an empathetic conversation is to be authentically curious and to listen.
Our web site, ConversationWorks.ca which include Whats Gone Well Today.com is also drawing a lot of attention. in the last three months we’ve grown from 50 000 page views to over 70 000 views. with viewers from many parts of the world. The web site also contains over 600 posts that users share about moments that have gone well in their day.
At the end of a grad reunion in September I asked a few people , What’s Gone Well Today at this party. While everyone liked the question ( and the band), one woman, an elementary school teacher particularly loved the question. She was looking for a way to revitalize her teaching and her outlook on life. From that conversation we’ve developed a program called What’s Gone Well Today at School. She and her grade 3/4 students absolutely love the program. Their mutual refrain is ‘ This is way too much fun!’ A number of the students are now editors of the schools site, providing quality control and adding images to the posts. They love being able to share their knowledge and insights with their teacher.
Her principal is hearing about the enthusiasm about the program in the school and asked her to share what’s she’s doing at a staff meeting. Other teachers are now interested. Her students can now act as mentors to other teachers to get them up and running.
Talking about WGWT at a public meeting, one business and community leader who is very involved with What’s Gone Well Today commented, “ This is the most interesting thing I’ve done since university.” Another commented the workshop gave ‘permission to think about things I don’t normally take time to think about.’ The head of a university research program commented part of the brilliance in WGWT , the disarming step is the questions it brings forward. The questions lowers the fear in the situations where academics find themselves, the questions and skills takes the fear out of the interlocutor, lowers the boundaries that isolate us.