Why Startup Founders Need to Start Asking the Right Questions

March 30, 2015

6:00 pm

Entrepreneurs are used to having the right answers instead of the right questions. But asking the right questions enables leaders to find solutions to any challenge.

Hal Gregersen, Executive Director MIT Learning Center and founder of the 4-24 Project, spoke at The Atlantic’s Start-Up City: Miami about how entrepreneurs can start asking more questions. Gregersen believes that by setting aside four minutes every 24 hours to ask better questions, we’re not only able to see our own personal but also professional challenges from entirely new angles.

The reason why we are not asking enough questions is because we come from a culture that praises those who get things done soon instead of those who ask more questions. The Harvard Business Review conducted a poll that found that people with children estimated that 70 to 80 percent of their kids’ dialogues with others were comprised of questions. But those same people said that only 15 to 25 percen of their own interactions consisted of questions. The negative side effect of not asking enough questions is that it can lead to poor decision-making.

“We need to start gifting ourselves time to ask more questions. This is a great way leaders can figure out what they are wrong about,”  said Gregersen.

Gregersen explained that we often ignore how different questions can lead to different outcomes. It helps people expand their view of a problem, rather than keeping a narrow focus. It’s up to startup founders to encourage a company culture where employees ask more questions, rather than one in which they rush to answers.

How do you start asking more questions? Here are a few tips shared by Gregersen at The Atlantic‘s Start-Up City: Miami event:

1. Try to Figure Out What You’re Wrong About

The best way to approach a challenge is to look at it from various angles.

2. Spend 4 Minutes Generating Questions About the Issue

You can do this alone or with someone else, but take the time to ask questions. Don’t come up with answers, just ask questions about the issue.

3. Identify Which Questions are Worth Your Time

Once you have come up with various questions, choose the ones that will help you find solutions.

Any questions?



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Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.

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