Q is for QUESTION
Updated: May 20, 2020
STOP! THINK! Whatever task you have in hand, chances are that applying
QWERTY® could be of real benefit. It can make the job easier, faster or the results more creative. As the management mantra goes: "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got!" QWERTY® can get you to think of interesting solutions rather than just a repetition of what's been done before.
Q is the crucial first step. It's where you decide what the task actually is, rather than what you think it might be. How often have you written a brilliant piece in an exam, only to find that you've answered completely the wrong question?
The clearer you can be about what the question is, the better the answer you are likely to come up with. What exactly do you need to think about? Is there something that you want to do? Or something you have to do? What is your aim, goal or purpose?
The above are very general questions, but before you start thinking properly you need to have used them to get very specific answers in order to define the Q for
1. What do you need?
2. What must be included?
3. What do you not need?
The answer to (1) might seem obvious, but is it? Are there any key elements that you need to think about or consider? Particularly when you add the constraints of (2) and (3).
It might be clearer if we look at an example. We did an exercise with some youngsters where they had to design a playground. We did a simple 'control' version where we gave them a simple task (design a playground with 5 items) but no other limitations and some suggestions of things they could consider:
· what features it would have
· whether there was anything special about it
· what it would be made of
· whether it would have a theme
· what colour(s) it would be
Then, we repeated the activity using QWERTY®. This time, though, we told them that we wanted something that was the 'best playground ever', one that was potentially 'award-winning'. As with the control exercise, we told them that it could only have 5 items. However, we now told them that it must have a theme (that was optional before) but couldn't have a swing, a slide or a roundabout (unless they were very unusual).
So, the question for our QWERTY® exercise had the following Q:
1. Design a potentially award-winning playground - the best one ever!
2. It must have 5 items and a theme.
3. It must NOT have a swing, a slide or a roundabout (unless VERY unusual).
We call the elements in the 'must have' category (i.e. number 2 in the list above) Qualifiers. They are things that you have to consider in order to complete the Question. We are not saying at this first stage what the 5 items are, or which theme to choose, just that answers to those Qualifiers must be found in order to have a satisfactory answer to the question.
Your list of Qualifiers could be very short, as it is in the example above, or there could be a long list of things that you want to consider before you finish. Some Qualifiers will be more important than others (which will become apparent in the Ranking stage), but, nonetheless, you have to think about them before you can move on.
One other thing to consider. When setting the question for QWERTY®, there might be some unasked questions/elements/qualifiers that become clear later in the process that will limit or restrict your choices. You can bear them in mind if they appear. Otherwise, having clearly defined your Q, you are now ready to start the WONDER stage.
If you'd like to hear us talk you through this stage, then check out the Q is for Question clip on our YouTube channel.