I’m coming to realise that one of the most grossly under-rated skill is “ability to ask the right questions”. The general consensus is that every intelligent person can ask intelligent questions. Can they really? NO.
I think we ask most of questions to ourselves. We have no problem asking the right questions as long as the answers are easy and pleasant, but the moment that they are complicated or unpleasant, I suspect we treat such questions as symbolic threats and do everything we can to avoid them. A classic example is “What do you want?”… The answer is not easy and we don’t want to spend all the time and energy only to figure out that we have no clue what we want (which is unpleasant). So we perpetually avoid that question.
Ok, that was philosophical. Actually, the reason I began to think about this topic is because I’m realising through the MBA that how much we learn or how successful we can be is directly correlated to our ability to ask the right question. I hear from many classmates that they are not sure what they want to do after the MBA… I wonder if we don’t know what we want to pursue after MBA, how we can understand how a corporate finance or marketing course is adding value to what we want to achieve in future. Well, the counter argument is that we learn merely to gain knowledge and not to get a job… that is not my point, If we have no clue how we intend to apply this knowledge in future, how can we gain maximum value.
Also, when we had to write a paper on how working in multi-cultural teams increases collaboration, I pondered over that question for three days making no progress. It was able to move forward only after I asked myself “What is collaboration?”… This might seem like a silly question, but it’s amazing how different our individual answers are compared to the standard definition : )
So if there are two skills that anybody should always improve on, it is the ability to “ask the right questions” and the ability to “ask”
Interestingly, I saw the profile of a partner from one of the big four consulting firms and his most favourite quote is “Why?”!! truly makes sense : )