The Power of ‘Why?’ and ‘What If?’


Are you a manager? If so, fill in the blank: “Don’t bring me problems, bring me ______.”

If “solutions” or “answers” came to mind, take a quick read through this article and see what you think. To start: are you asking enough questions? The Power of ‘Why’ and ‘What If’ by Warren Berger looks at how managers and supervisors are seeing the benefits of questioning and curiosity.

Managers and supervisors in the National Park Service have been following standard management principles that have been in place for decades. This model doesn’t look too favorably on workers asking many questions. But things are starting to change. In the world around us, there is a push for managers to encourage their employees to ask questions. These managers see the value of curiosity. Employees who exhibit this trait tend to be more aware of what they don’t know or where their skill sets are weak. They are also usually eager to know more about their organization and are often the drivers of innovation.

With changing visitor demographics and the ever growing presence of social media and networking, NPS managers must be able to continually learn about and anticipate trends. This is much easier with a curious workforce. However, the curiosity trait must be rewarded, even if it’s the simple acknowledgement of a good idea.

The real challenge lies in convincing management to embrace a culture of curiosity. Organizations – the NPS is no exception – are driven by measurable results. The straightest line to these results is best of all. Those in senior management may not be able to see the value in dedicating time and resources to a questioning work culture. It is up to forward thinking NPS managers and supervisors to help them see the value in questioning.

It begins with you. When was the last time you asked yourself why you do your job the way you do? Perhaps you should.

From the Article

“Know your job, do your work, and if a problem arises, solve it and don’t bother us with a lot of questions.”

That was the management model in place for so long but things are beginning to change. Mr. Berger’s article clues us in on how:

  • Questioning skills are essential to stay relevant during time of dynamic change
  • Asking questions sparks innovation
  • Polaroid—A case study for questioning
  • Question formulating exercises—an easy way to grow questioning skills with your workforce

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