TregoED Blog

The Unasked Question

In “The Road Not Taken”, Robert Frost pays tribute to the tantalizing possibilities presented by each of 2 diverging roads –  and the consequences of having to choose just one.  Decision-making can be a bit like that, can’t it?  Making one choice means forgoing another.

Choices are often driven by the questions asked – or unasked. History is rife with examples of the consequences of the unasked  – or unacknowledged – question.  What affect might unusually low temperatures have on space shuttle equipment?   What is our backup plan if the unsinkable ship actually sinks?  What evidence do we have that consumers want a new Coke taste?

But asking the otherwise unasked question can be punishing.  We risk having our questions misinterpreted as “negative”.  When people are determined to make a certain choice, they rarely welcome anyone questioning its validity.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do.  The next time you are assessing a possible choice, try one or more of the following:

  • What evidence do we have that we need to do something different?
  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What other options have we considered?”.
  • What can go wrong?
  • How will we tell if we have been successful?”

These are all great questions which can elevate the quality of decision-making – and its outcomes. And remember:  the next time someone asks you a tough question, they may just be unwittingly throwing you a lifeline.  Embrace the tough question – and go ahead and ask it.