It is rare that the first problem presented in a team setting is the most crucial to solve. In most instances, the first problem presented – usually in the form of a complaint – may have an urgent quality to it, but, represents only a symptom of a deeper, more fundamental issue that needs solving.
When complaints are raised, the freedom to ask questions becomes invaluable. If questioning is not an appreciated characteristic of your team’s culture, the loudest complaint will get addressed first. And, instead of dealing with the larger, more significant problems that led to the complaint, you will spend time racing to put out one fire then another.
If your team doesn’t encourage the asking of questions, you will solve the wrong problems – the symptoms. Rarely will you pause to reflect on the bigger, more strategic issues causing those symptoms. In essence, you will be employing the use band aids when you should be looking at more holistic treatments.
If you want to solve the right problems, encourage the use of questions in all circumstances. A good and helpful question to start with is, “why do we do it that way?” Hint: If the first answer is, “because we always have,” you may quickly find that you are onto the larger problem that needs solving.