Actual questions asked by actual persons render what needs to be “understood” and “deepened” tangible:
- Deepening someone’s understanding – a worthy goal though it is – sounds vague and nebulous. Bringing things down to earth and making them tangible is a must. As we are
talking about deepening the understanding of a particular group of persons (who are real and can be contacted), why not ask persons in that group what are the important practical things they
don’t understand? Why not ask them to write down their burning questions?
- The list of questions is an actual list that one can hold in one’s hands to guide one’s work. One can also use the questions to focus attention on particular kinds of data to
collect and research to undertake that match the questions.
Asking important questions is a tried and proven technique:
- Whether in the scientific or social sphere, those who have achieved remarkable breakthroughs and come up with effective, lasting solutions often have a set of core questions as the
bedrock on which their endeavors are based.
- For example, “Always ask important questions and answer them reliably” is a motto familiar to those who conduct randomized trials/ RCTs because that has served as the guiding
principle of the medical science experts who pioneered this method.
Questions invite discussions and exploration:
- A person asking a question is saying, “I don’t have (all) the answers; please tell me more”.
- Persons pay more attention to and engage more thoughtfully with things that they recognize as responses to questions they themselves have asked.
Inviting a range of different front-line individuals to share their questions is more “participatory” than having a few individuals decide what the focus areas should
- Why not come up with questions and priorities ourselves? Why take all the trouble of approaching a range of front-line persons?
- Workable, enduring solutions are more likely to be found by considering multiple perspectives, and using a multi-disciplinary systems approach rather than ourselves or each front-line
group working in silos.