We use questions to explore how our groups analyse and approach challenges and get them to think back on how they can improve, what they did well etc. You should still use these questions, but instead dig a little deeper and use a line of questioning to help examine answers and identify gaps in their understanding.
I am going to talk about Socrates here in this article as I believe that his philosophy regarding building teams is very aligned with my own philosophy.
The true value of an experience is measured by what each participant got from it, not what you hoped they did. All individuals’ experiences are based on their own perceptions and belief systems. People learn best through personal experience and self-discovery.
Questioning helps us to gauge understanding and to guide learners to the truth (their own truth) based on individual perceptions and belief systems.
How to ask Questions:
Here are 3 key guidelines from Ronald Gross’s book, “Socrates Way”:
1) Ask great questions. Socrates says in Plato’s “Protagoras,” “My way toward the truth is to ask the right questions.” Such questions stimulate thinking and prevent arguments.
Here are a few questions to use for team building:
- What is your analysis of the problem?
- What can be done to solve the problem?
- Why is that important?
- What do I need to get my end result?
- What will that end result mean?
- Why do you believe the plan will work?
- Why is that important?
- What was the most important aspect of the challenge?
- Why was that important?
- How did that support your outcome?
- What evidence supports that conclusion?
Not only did Socrates ask great questions, he also encouraged questions from others. Through great questions, come great answers which change attitudes and this takes you one step closer to the truth.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates
2) Think for yourself. Socrates encouraged others to have an open mind and challenged conventional wisdom of his time – challenging conclusions solely based on authority. It is not necessary to always accept, “what the expert says…” as a basis for the truth.
Ask partners to share their own thinking and observations and not to rely on the ideas and opinions of others. Yet, at the same time respect those who had expertise on a matter and seek to learn from them
3) Grow with friends. In Plato’s “Critias,” Socrates says “When a group of friends have enjoyed fine conversation together, you will find that suddenly something extraordinary happens.
Socrates believed that working with others was essential for seeking a deeper truth through dialogue. Such dialogue is not about winning and losing. It is not a debate. Conversation is collaborative and generous.
The Story of Philosophy (Bryan Mager, 1998)
The Socratic Method and Critical Philosophy (Leonard Nelson, 1965)
Socrates Way (Ronald Gross, 2002)