Albert Einstein was once asked
‘If you had an hour to solve a problem, what would you do?’
to which the great physicist replied
‘I’d spend 55 minutes determining the proper questions to ask.’
So… what are the proper questions?
Unfortunately we don’t have Albert’s answer to that one, so we have to figure it out for ourselves.
The first question I like to ask is:
Q1. Why do we think it’s a problem?
(Given that most of history’s greatest inventions and discoveries happened by accident, it’s worth asking if the ‘problem‘ isn’t a breakthrough in disguise). Assuming it really is a problem, it’s time to ask
Q2. What exactly is the problem?
The sharper our definition, the better the solution, so let’s be clear.
Question three brings out the four-year-old in us all:
Q3. Why is it happening? So why is that happening? But why? What makes that happen? Is it like that everywhere? When did it start? Why? But WHY?
Eventually you’ll hit on a few root causes and be ready to ask:
Q4. Where can we influence this?
and my personal favourite;
Q5. What if we could change anything?
In answering that question we find all sorts of possibilities. Then we ask:
Q6. Which ideas might work best?
Q7. How might they fail… and what could we do about that?
Q8. How will we use our resources?
Q9. Who will do what by when?
Which just leaves us with
Q10. What are we waiting for?