Why is it that some people enjoy being questioned on their decisions or positions on a topic, while others feel challenged, sometimes to the point of feeling threatened? While the latter can occur in any environment, I’ve observed it more when there’s a hierarchy between people, e.g. management/employee, teacher/student etc. Whatever the reason, these interactions frequently stifle innovation and creativity, and can affect the bottom line. Over the years I’ve watched this play out numerous times in both industry and academia.
When we are asked or ask the right questions, the answers are often more meaningful and relevant. Questions are a form of quality control because they force us to re-think and refine our positions. When I teach, I encourage students to challenge my positions because that process will help me improve as a teacher.
That same approach is especially useful for new entrepreneurs because they are creating something that doesn’t yet exist, which means there are an infinite number of variables to consider. Anyone who has taken an entrepreneurship course recognizes the “blank canvas vs. painting by numbers” reference when comparing entrepreneurship to existing businesses. That doesn’t imply that questions aren’t important in existing ventures, because they are. Philosophies such as “Kaizen”or the “5 Whys” and others like them deal with getting to the root of an issue or finding ways to improve processes by questioning and examining.
For arts entrepreneurs a question worth asking is, “Do I surround myself with people who always affirm my positions or those who challenge my thinking—and why?”
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