Guide to Questioning: Prioritizing Inquiry

There are notions in philosophy, esoteric studies and various other mediums of thought where the act of questioning is emphasized as the greater, more significant part of the equation in the relationship between questions and answers. Stating evidently, an easily graspable idea that all answers originate from questions. One's ability to question creates the realm of potential answers. Questions lead to answers by default. One can go as far as to say that all questions have answers implicit within them. This point of view brings attention to the art of questioning. A pointer to the sense that greater questions will reveal greater answers.

We utilize this understanding in our practice of business. Our ideology leads us to portray answers as somewhat temporary and local. Our best efforts to conjure what we can, the infinite wisdom of the universe can never be fully graspable all at one instance, or summed up in a string of words.

"The universe is non-simultaneously comprehended"

- Robert Anton Wilson

Being aware of our limitations in our ability to question is a way to work towards better questions. Limitations may be recognized in various forms, an example being the questions being bound to the particular language that it's being articulated in. Each language differs in ways questions can be formed for instance. This mode of thought promotes good questioning being the primary focus for examining ideas while being open ended to what may surface as a solution. Every solution can be further explored, that is the nature of models, there are no limits to good answers. Therefore the idea of concluding with a thought or achieving the ultimate answer can be viewed as self-limiting. The questioning never really ends in the cycle.

"Questions are perpetual solution creating mechanisms"

- Hugh Thomas Phillips

We often don't realize that all answers and solutions started with good questions.

"All teaching and learning lies in the art of questioning. Questioning which is the basis of teaching task encourages recalling, deepens the learning process and comprehension, promotes the imagination and problem-solving, satisfies the sense of curiosity, and increases the creativity.”

Science Direct

We'd like to reveal our process of inquisition in this guide to help explore, investigate and develop ideas and products, or assist in any project planning. The inquisitive mind utilizes the following set of questions as part of the English language to lead our way to possible answers. This guide serves to bring awareness to the nature of questioning, an inherent mechanism in our language. We find this order to be particularly useful in the early stages of planning and strategizing.

1. WHY - Depthening

Purpose driven processes have the advantage of maintaining a larger framework, higher concept or ideal. This can be described as 'setting intention'. The Why is the gateway to understand principles, a higher governing model that sets the tone and context. This question guides us to the forefront of what truly needs to be communicated throughout the process internally (e.g. within our team) and externally (e.g. marketing/showcasing). We find this question to be the most important, and we keep reminding ourselves to share our thoughts on ‘why’ we do what we do rather than ‘what’ we do...

Practice: Keep asking 'why?' repeatedly until reaching a truly fulfilling intention/purpose or core reasoning. Let this practice elevate the significance and the depth of the answer at each layer.

2. HOW - Elements

This is where imagineering takes place. The brainstorming process involves analyzing provided concepts, frameworks and models. We look at this portion as developing techniques and tools, this shapes our scope of what's possible in the following questions. Carrying the recognition that all questions have answers, this is our opportunity to examine how best we can answer the deeper questions. Knowing how we'll approach a question serves as building blocks to figuring out the rest of the way. Know-how and experience are likely helpful factors to widen the spectrum of possible solutions.

Practice: This is where visualization techniques, model building and analysis is utilized. Being able to move parts of the equation around and envision possible outcomes is necessary to 'systems' approach. Mathematical/rational thinking combined with creative ingenuity as the practice.

3. WHAT - Crystallize

The 'what?' addresses things on a more local level, bringing context into picture. This part can be viewed as a magnified glass or a focus lens. Naturally, all projects involve various points and aspects, and 'what?' is our way to zoom into the finer details, the wheels in the engine. The smaller parts lead to larger parts, eventually getting to a larger goal of the project. The task is to establish a clear goal that's supported with enough detail to decide on whether it's worth executing.

Practice: Thoroughness is encouraged in detailing out the plan. Just like a manual book for a simple device that seems overwritten, the more thorough and detailed the information, the overall vision gains that much more accuracy.

4. WHERE - Attune

When the blueprint is ready the space is what allows for the process to take place. Whether digital or physical, the space acts as a medium and the environment for the project. The medium greatly influences and shapes the message and the final product. The platform itself can't be understated and affects the ‘what’, the ‘how’ and the ‘why’! A great way to gain more awareness of spaces and it's uses is learning more about design. Whether it be utilizing knowledge from traditions such as Feng Shui or modern digital art, good design communicates to the subtle layers of our consciousness, amplifying the signal of what’s being presented.

Practice: Become aware that language is more than just written syllables and all form/colour have strong associations to ideas and feelings in the mind's perception. Just like good branding, you want the space to be as attuned as possible to what's being and showcased as the product.

5. WHO - Delegate

Once the goals are set and the way is conceived with previous questions, assigning tasks to individuals takes place. At times, the personnel are considered higher in the order, dependent on the nature of the project. With that in mind, 4 and 5 are sometimes interchangeable based on which leads one to another. Also the 'who' and 'when' can be figured out together if given the opportunity. We'd like to get an idea of who will be delegated and get all the functions straight before developing a timeline or a sense of flow. This would be the last portion that involves creativity and management skills. We ascribe roles in our organization based on functions and skill sets.

Practice: Utilizing references from established networks. Managerial skills and knowledge would help in this task. Leadership attributes is what supports this process of delegating tasks to individuals. Time manage.

6. WHEN - Chronos

The old saying that 'nothing happens before it's time' is what brings this question to the bottom of the list. When the rest of the questions are dealt with, the special moment is anticipated when the project actually manifests. The schedule is trickier to set in stone than the initial outlook may suggest. Things have it's own pace, even though some are past deadlines or exceeding reasonable timeframes. This last part can be as unpredictable as the weather itself. Until the very last minute of the execution, plans may change due to unforeseen circumstances, which usually means rescheduling. A good practice is to overestimate the time that sometime is given initially and create healthy gaps to decrease potential overlapping scenarios. 

Practice: Flexibility and patience. This portion is calling one to see the project till the end. To complete the vision, despite necessary timeline adjustments due to various factors. Time management skills are a great addition when working with schedules on a more obvious note.

About the Author

As Chief Visionary and Founder, Rezo established Alter8, Alternative Thinking and Alternity to serve the expansion of human consciousness by curating a best in class health lifestyle and multidisciplinary offering of books and products to serve the growing alternative community. In addition to his leadership role, he also leads vision, systems, frameworks, and technological dimensions of the business.