Thought-Provoking Questions

published 18-2-2013

In my Idea Notebook (published in Dutch) the following Thought-Provoking Questions were included. Try these questions. They will support you creativity when searching for new solutions.

Thought-Provoking Questions for assessing your ideas:
- Is the idea new? Which problem does it solve? For whom will the idea create value?
- What does my intuition, my feelings tell me about the idea?
- How important is it for me that this idea will be realized?
- What are the main advantages / disadvantages of the idea?
- Is it wise to already tell others about my idea?
- How can I get others excited about it? Is it therefore important to first reformulate my idea?
- Can I explain the idea in 15 seconds (the elevator pitch) in a convincing way?
- What will be the opposing forces when I coin this idea? How will I deal with them?
- Who can help me to further polish the idea?
- Am I the right person to realize my idea? Do I need collaboration and, if so, with whom?
- Is the idea feasible in its current form? What can I add to further increase its feasibility?
- How much time will it take to realize the idea? Can I speed it up? What is the best time for realization?
- Who in the company might be a good sponsor for my idea?
- What else is needed (support, resources) to bring this idea into reality?

Thought-Provoking Questions when faced with problems:
- How did this problem arise? Could it have been avoided? Is it a new problem?
- Which opportunities are hidden for me in this problem?
- What are my assumptions about the problem? How can I be sure these assumptions are correct?
- What are the underlying problems?
- For whom is it a problem and why? / When is it a problem?
- Am I the (only) problem owner?
- What is the best time to take action on this problem?
- Suppose that I do not (immediately) act on the problem, what will probably happen then?
- What does my heart, my feelings, my intuition tell me about this problem?
- Who can help me to bring this problem to a solution?
- Who can help me to look differently at the problem and its possible solutions?
- Is this really a new problem? It is already solved elsewhere? What can I learn from others who have coped with the problem?
- How will I after some time, looking backwards, think about this problem?
- When I’m in doubt about an action to solve this problem, are my doubts about
my abilities, my motivation, my knowledge or my wisdom?
- How would great entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, or Richard Branson tackle this problem?

Thought-Provoking Questions when faced with change:
- What is the essence of this change?
- Can I reformulate the change? What are the opportunities when reformulating the change?
- Can I look at this change from different perspectives? What are the opportunities of looking differently the idea?
- How do I deal with the uncertainty that this change will bring? What gives me the inner security that I can cope with this change?
- What are the opportunities for me of this change in terms of personal growth, progress in my career, or developing new relationships and partnerships?
- How does this change pose a challenge for my knowledge, skills, courage or perseverance?
- Can I really influence this change? If I can influence it, what then will be my actions? If I can’t influence it, what then will my attitude be towards this change?
- With whom can I have an inspiring and opportunity-oriented conversation about this change?
- When I look backwards at all the changes in my work and life I have dealt with,
what lessons have I learned? How can I apply these personal lessons and insights to the current change I am dealing with?
- What is my deepest wish about this change?

Thought-Provoking Questions when self- brainstorming about answers on a question.
- Reformulate the question in at least three different ways. What is the effect of a reformulation?
- Write down the assumptions behind the question. What if you would change or
drop one of the assumptions? Does it open new windows of opportunities?
- Use your imagination. Visualize the desired situation. Daydream about it. Write down what you have seen. Write down the ideas that pops up in your to mind.
- Take the word clock. What are the possible connections between a clock and your question. Write them down and see if this brings you new insights. Try to add some other words to connect to.
- Before going to bed, ask yourself the question. Have a notebook with pencil ready on your nightstand, and keep the notebook with you the next morning.
Be alert on the answers popping up in your mind.
- Do a ”reversed brainstorming”. Think of answer that will lead to a complete failure? What do you learn about this?
- Close your eyes, and imagine yourself having a dialogue about this problem with most creative persons in the world. What is the advice you are given?
- The great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that all great ideas are born during walks. So, have a idea walk in nature. In the first 20 minutes of the walk, try to be mindful about all you see around you. After that think about the question and write down the answers that come up in your mind.

In the coming months I will publish many more Thought-Provoking Questions in my Innovation and Inspiration Newsletter I am going to launch in March 2013. In this newsletter you will find practical ideas and insights to increase your organizational and personal innovation power. My newsletter appears in a Dutch and English version.
If you want to sign up for this newsletter (English version), click: Newsletter Innovation and Inspiration (

© 2013, Jeff Gaspersz

About the author:
Prof. dr. Jeff Gaspersz is Professor of Innovation at Nyenrode Business Universiteit and an advisor, speaker and entrepreneur in the field of innovation management and business creativity. He previously worked for KPMG as the manager of the HR Trendwatch Center and as Director of the KPMG Center for Innovation in the Netherlands. His research fields are innovation leadership and the thinking behind innovation. His books, articles and blogs focus on shaping organizations where our individual and collective creation powers are stimulated and used.
Write down your answer to these questions Write down your answer to these questions