“Asking ‘why’ can help bring greater innovation and avoid disaster, but first we need to reframe the way we think about it.” – Art Markman, The Importance of Creating a Culture of Why, Fast Company, 12 Nov. 2014
This article by Art Markman (@abmarkman) resonated with me a lot. I am a long time fan of asking ‘why’ – never as a way of undermining others or disagreeing by stealth (something that Markman discusses in his article) – but always as a way of trying to get to the bottom of things, to learn and understand. But – Yikes! – it used to get me in trouble when I ‘worked for the man’. I learnt that not everyone is as comfortable with ‘why’ questions as I am.
One of the reasons why I became Dangerous Meredith when I decided to hang up my shingle as a self employed consultant was to provide potential customers with a business name that was a conversation opener that allowed people to ask ‘why?’: “Why did you call yourself Dangerous Meredith”? This would allow me to let them know that I tend to ask the ‘why’ question myself a heck of a lot. Whether or not they found this to be ‘dangerous’ was up to them…
Anyhow, enough about me. Read this article; it’s beaut.
“We need to reclaim ‘Why?’ as a positive force in the workplace. That requires that we start to tell our colleagues about the importance of maximizing the quality of the causal and explanatory knowledge around us. It also means finding another method for disagreeing with coworkers while still being collegial. Finally, it is crucial that when people start to use the question ‘Why?’ at work when they really mean ‘I disagree’ that we highlight that and work to state disagreements more explicitly.” – Art Markman