Good questions outrank easy answers

Good questions outrank easy answers – Quote by Paul Samuelson

Understanding the real situation in any circumstance needs information and insight. These are usually obtained by asking the right questions!

Most people underrate the power of effective questions and fail to appreciate the skills needed to actually ask the right questions or the right person in the right way to elicit accurate information. Questions can change perceptions, tap into selective memories and effectively change the recollections of the person being asked for information. This is as true of the questions you ask yourself as it is of the questions you ask other people. Our White Paper 1012: Active Listening discusses some of the key skills required for effective questioning. Now a new publication from the APM provides a structured set of questions to make sure you understand your project.

The Lens Collective – A Guide to Seeing Different Perspectives in Project Management is a very interesting publication from the Association for Project Management designed to help you ask the right questions.

The eleven ‘lenses’ in the collective are a series of carefully framed questions, each focused on a specific aspect of project management, designed to probe the latent power of people and enable higher levels of self-awareness (provided you take an open-minded approach to answering the challenging questions).

An example is ‘Lens 5’ focused on project planning.

The Summary question is: “What questions do I need to ask in order to understand and achieve success through effective project planning?”

There are four focus questions within this ‘lens’, the first is: “Do I understand the critical elements of planning?”

To provide a comprehensive answer to this key question, there are twelve very specific sub-questions including:

  • Do I understand the purpose of planning?
  • Do I understand the totality of the planning process, the strategic nature of planning, stakeholder management and the production of documentation?
  • Are stakeholder expectations congruent with the initial planning process?
  • How will the project plan be communicated to the stakeholders?
  • Is the planning approach suitable for this project?

The second focus question in this section is: “How can I influence the project through effective planning?” and so on.

The Lens Collective has been designed to be universally applicable, regardless of the complexity of the project, programme or portfolio. You can choose to use the whole collective, or individual ‘lenses’ can be utilised wholly or partially at different times during the project or programme lifecycle. The questions can be answered individually as an aid to reflective learning or collaboratively to help build team understanding. For more information see: http://www.apm.org.uk/TheLensCollective

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