Jump Starting Innovation: Two Questions that Will Drive Your Results

The idea of innovation makes us feel good. The steps we must take to actually innovate, change, and improve are sometimes hard.  In coaching leaders and high performers over the years, I have found that better results come from asking two very important questions on a daily basis.  By continuously asking these questions, you put yourself in position as a leader or as a team of actually aiming your intention toward innovations that could lead to better results.

Why Ask Questions at All?

Good question.  That is a question, isn’t it?  In fact, most innovations come from questions we have.  We may question ourselves (how can I get ready to run a marathon?), our work (how can we grow the business by 15% this next quarter?), or our destinies (is this what I was put on earth to do?).  Asking questions has helped us discover horseless carriages and space exploration within a hundred years. Our internal hunger, shared in the groups or tribes we live in, pushes us toward innovations or answers to these compelling inquiries.

All Questions Created Equal?

What’s wrong with me?  Why do I always fail when I try to lose weight?  Why can’t we hire a smarter CEO?  What’s wrong with kids today?  If you search hard enough, you’ll find answers to these questions, but they likely won’t lead you toward a better result.  So, it isn’t just about asking questions.  It’s about asking the right questions.

What Have I Tried?  What Have I Learned?

Two very helpful questions in assisting leaders and high performers to continuously innovate are the following: what have I tried? What have I learned?

To bring this example to fruition, let’s imagine that three people each want to lose 20 pounds and compete in a CrossFit contest.  Let’s try it:

Goal: Lose 20 lbs and Compete in a CrossFit Contest

Person #1-

  • What have I tried?- Fasting for two weeks and run/walking 10 miles per day.
  • What have I learned?- When I drop weight that quickly, I lose muscle and it’s hard for me to engage in CrossFit.

Person #2-

  • What have I tried?- I maintained my previous diet but went for a leisurely, two-mile walk every day.
  • What have I learned?- I can’t lose weight by only leisurely walking to work out and maintaining a high caloric diet.

Person #3-

  • What have I tried?- I followed my dietitian’s meal schedule and increased my aerobic activity and weightlifting frequency for the past two months.
  • What have I learned?- When I follow a healthy diet and do both aerobic activities and weightlifting activities, I get in shape and can do CrossFit.

The Key to Making These Questions Work: First, Trying

It sounds overly simple, but the fact of the matter is that one of the obstacles that keeps people from progressing is their inability to commit to doing something new in the name of improving results. You can’t achieve better results without a new and improved approach. This can’t happen until you strive with enthusiasm to try to discover what that approach could be.

The Key to Making These Questions Work: Second, Learning

By trying new things, you learn a lot.  You might learn about yourself and your preferences. You might discover an approach that simply works well for you because it’s you. The key, however, is learning something new that you can ultimately apply on a more consistent basis. As a result of continuously asking yourself, “What did I try and what did I learn?”, you put yourself in a position where learning is the undergirding opportunity you are striving for.  In the end, the outcome becomes even more important the results. After all, anybody can get lucky once in a while and things just work out. Most of us would rather learn what we need to know to be successful so that we can apply it again and again. To achieve this level of consistency in achieving results, ask yourself these two questions on a continuous basis, and grow as a result.


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