Digging Deeper with Curiosity Questions

Unearth the Invisible Iceberg of Opportunities!


CQA is a methodology that encourages us to dig deeper, seek unknown data, explore others’ thoughts and opinions, and uncover the emotions that lie beneath the surface of our interactions. It’s about cultivating a culture of curiosity and learning that enriches our understanding of the world and people around us.

Imagine a world-renowned CEO, let’s call him Charles, who is at the helm of an innovative tech company. Despite all the success and accolades, Charles felt like something was amiss. Meetings were efficient, yes, but they lacked depth. It seemed as if everyone was simply reporting facts, agreeing on obvious ideas, and moving on. The team’s interaction felt like they were only dealing with the ‘tip of the iceberg.’

Charles was an adventurer at heart and had once embarked on an expedition to the Arctic. He recalled standing on the ship, observing a massive iceberg. “Just the tip of the iceberg,” the captain had said, explaining that most of the iceberg was hidden beneath the water, unseen and unexplored.

This memory sparked an idea. Charles decided to apply this iceberg analogy to his company meetings. He introduced the Curiosity Question Asked (CQA) method, encouraging his team to dive deeper into discussions, seek out unseen data, explore hidden thoughts, and uncover submerged feelings. And just like the vast expanse beneath the Arctic iceberg, they discovered a wealth of knowledge and insights beneath the surface of their conversations. Thus, my friends, this is why we need the CQA method in our offices and homes as well!

Detailed Explanation

CQA is a questioning methodology that consists of three distinct types of questions – Data, Thoughts/Opinions, and Feelings. Each type serves a unique purpose, allowing us to uncover different layers of information and understanding.

Data Questions: Data questions help us discover hidden or unknown information about a topic. They can be about anything from a fact about a project, a piece of historical data, a statistic, or any form of concrete, factual information. It is about asking the right questions to extract specific details that might not be immediately apparent. For example, “What is the market share of our product in comparison to our main competitors?” or “Can you provide more specific data on how our social media campaign has increased our engagement rates?”

Thoughts/Opinions Questions: These questions aim at understanding the thoughts, perspectives, and opinions of others on a given topic. They are extremely valuable in environments where collaboration and diversity of thought contribute to better decision making. These questions can help uncover hidden biases, reveal unique perspectives, and foster a culture of openness and mutual respect. For example, “What are your thoughts on the new project proposal?” or “How do you interpret the recent feedback we received from our client?”

Feelings Questions: Feelings questions delve into the emotional side of conversations, often overlooked in professional settings but are crucial to building empathy and fostering healthier communication. These questions encourage people to express how they feel about a situation, decision, or event. It can help unearth personal motivations, reservations, or satisfaction levels, creating an environment that values emotional intelligence. For example, “How did you feel about the way the meeting went?” or “What are your feelings towards the new organizational changes?”

The unique combination of these three types of questions within the CQA methodology allows for a more comprehensive understanding of any topic or situation. It promotes a deeper level of communication where curiosity is valued, and learning is continuous. It fosters a culture that encourages asking the ‘why’, ‘how’, and ‘what’ beyond the obvious, resulting in a richer, more rewarding interaction.

Steps to design a CQA

Step 1: Identify the topic or situation that you want to explore further. In this scenario, it’s understanding why a sales deal was lost.

Step 2: Identify the stakeholders involved. This could include the sales team who worked on the deal, the prospective client, and perhaps other internal teams who were part of the process.

Step 3: Decide the type of CQA to use based on what you want to uncover about the situation and the stakeholders. For example, Data questions can be used to gather specifics about the deal, Thoughts/Opinions questions can help understand where your team or the client felt things may have gone wrong, and Feelings questions can explore the emotions that the event elicited.

Step 4: Formulate your question

Creating a well-thought-out question is a crucial step in the CQA process. It’s important to ensure the question is open-ended to encourage a broad range of responses and deep conversation. Here’s how you can formulate each type of question in the context of a lost sales deal:

Data Questions: This type of question should be formulated to extract as much factual information about the situation as possible. It’s about looking for concrete evidence or specifics that can shed light on the ‘bottom of the iceberg.’ For example, “Can you provide a detailed breakdown of our proposal versus the competitor’s offer?” or “What specific feedback did we receive from the client about our proposal?”

Thoughts/Opinions Questions: These questions aim to capture the thoughts and opinions of the stakeholders involved. They should be crafted in a way that encourages the other person to share their perspective freely. For instance, “From your perspective, where did our proposal fall short compared to our competitor’s?” or “What do you believe were the deciding factors for the client?”

Feelings Questions: These questions should be asked with empathy and a genuine desire to understand the other person’s emotions about the situation. They should be phrased in a non-judgmental and caring manner to make the person comfortable sharing their feelings. For instance, “How did you feel when you heard we lost the deal?” or “What emotions did this outcome trigger in the team?”

It’s essential to remember that the aim of these questions is not to place blame but to discover hidden insights. The phrasing of the question plays a significant role in this. A well-phrased question can help you delve deeper and uncover the ‘bottom of the iceberg,’ bringing out critical information and emotions that can be vital to understanding the situation better and informing future strategies.

Step 5: Ask your question in a respectful and interested manner. For example, “I’m trying to understand the whole picture of why we lost the deal. Can you share what you think might have been our weak points in our proposal?”

Step 6: Listen actively and with genuine interest to the response. This is the first step to getting to the ‘bottom of the iceberg,’ where the bulk of important insights are hidden beneath the surface.

Step 7: Follow up with additional CQAs based on the responses received. For example, if a team member mentions that they felt unprepared, you can ask, “Can you tell me more about why you felt unprepared? What resources do you think would have helped you feel more confident?”

Step 8: Evaluate the answers and the process. Reflect on what you’ve learned. Did the answers provide insight into the lost deal? Are there changes to be made? This evaluation helps to ensure that the uncovered ‘bottom of the iceberg’ knowledge doesn’t remain unused but gets incorporated into future strategies and actions.

Remember, the goal isn’t just to identify what went wrong but to learn and adapt from the situation. The ‘bottom of the iceberg’ is often where the most significant, actionable insights lie. By using the CQA approach, you’re better equipped to unearth these insights and turn a lost deal into a learning opportunity.It’s essential to remember that the aim of these questions is not to place blame but to discover hidden insights. The phrasing of the question plays a significant role in this. A well-phrased question can help you delve deeper and uncover the ‘bottom of the iceberg,’ bringing out critical information and emotions that can be vital to understanding the situation better and informing future strategies.