An experiment of using powerful questions for self-coaching
Over the last months I stumbled across powerful questions for agile teams multiple times. Powerful questions help with emerging change, they are open for the client’s mental models and they literally invite to introspection and new perspectives. There is a great overview and a resource list compiled by Deborah Hartmann Preuss which you can find here
I knew the concept of different question types and their different levels of powerfulness already from my coaching education; and I practised in that (private) context quite a lot. Of course I leveraged my knowledge within the professional context as well, but now I was looking for an opportunity to practise more regularly on professional topics and with that shape my skills even further.
The EYODF idea
Call me crazy if you want… but I thought: before randomly throwing powerful questions on people (of course I won’t do that ;-)) – why not eating my own dogfood? Do dogfooding and go practise with my very own topics. There I am the only one in charge of doing it regularly. Furthermore it would help me to develop my personality even more.
So what I did is…
I print out a deck of powerful question cards, drew a nice envelope for it and placed that at a well-visible place in my flat.
How do I use the cards you might ask?
Everytime I find myself thinking hard about a certain topic I quickly reach the point where I tell my mind "Stop right here!". I use that moment of awareness and take a random powerful question from my "question dispenser". Sometime the question doesn’t fit into that very moment – then I just take another one. Most often these "think hard" moments occur right after coming home from work or short before leaving to the office in the mornings. With that I can try out the powerful questions on work-related topics and on my own mind and mental models.
And the benefits?
Actually after three weeks of running this kind of experiment, at last the second question always hit the nail. It helped me approaching each and every topic from a different perspective like before. It feels almost a bit "magical"… but of course it’s not. The powerful questions are just working as expected.
Also I already experienced that my way of asking questions to other people changed. Of course it’s not scientifically proven but I hear more often feedbacks like "that’s a good question" or "that makes me really think" during the last weeks.
And by using the questions as a self-coaching tool I tackle the switch from work to private life in the evenings quicker than before.
- There is an even more comprehensive resource list from Deborah Hartmann Preuss.
- There is a ZIP file with the Powerful Question Cards in multiple languages
- I shared some of my experiences with that experiment on Twitter