The importance of questions in business and research (article)

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If you are looking for a powerful yet simple business improvement tool, then this free article by Derek Stockley may help.

Questions have been used by researchers for a long time

A lot of management theory is based on extensive research. The importance of research and discovery is an essential concept in all levels of education. Research is the basis of many higher education studies.

A remark made by a university lecturer many years ago was again reinforced this week. When talking about research, he stated:

"The most important part of successful study is the question. You have to ask the right question. The topic is defined and framed by the question."

I often think of this quote when I am completing market research questionnaires or surveys. I look carefully at the questions and wonder how useful the information will be. Too often I believe that the questions are so basic that they only really confirm the obvious.

Questions have a broader use. A conference this week highlighted again how important questions are.

After two days of intensive presentations on e-learning, I conducted a workshop with a focus on successful e-learning implementation. One of the things we did was brainstorm a list of questions. The conference presentations had provided a wealth of information about the e-learning process, traps to avoid and how people and organisations had approached e-learning.

By Day 3, there were a lot of ideas, concepts and concrete actions to sort and process.

Participants would need to review the information, carry out some investigation and incorporate the outcome in what they did.

By asking them to list a series of questions that arose from the conference content, a logical framework to tackle the issues raised could be developed.

Examples are:

How computer literate are our staff?

Have they been exposed to e-learning previously?

What is their likely reaction?

We brainstormed many more questions. The questions were developed by thinking about the key points made in the conference presentations.

By using questions, it is possible to analyse in a structured way the many good points that arose from the conference. The questions help define further areas for investigation.


The 'question process' has a wider application.

A business manager faced with implementing a major new task might find it daunting, thinking: "Where do I start?".

Listing a series of questions at first will help sort out the issues clearly.

For example:

What are the expected outcomes?

What resources do I have? Need to obtain?

Who is going to support this project?

A few minutes spent identifying the questions will help define the project.

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