Powerful Questions for Agile Teams

by Lyssa Adkins on April 15, 2008

I had the joy of giving a talk and workshop at the Scrum Gathering in Chicago yesterday.  When I can get the video uploaded to YouTube, I’ll provide a blog entry to link to it.  In the meantime, one of the parts of the talk was about using Powerful Questions with Agile teams. 

Powerful Questions is a tool that I picked up in my coaching training recently.  I am using it to great effect with the teams and individuals I coach.  It is rocking my world (in a good way) so I passed it on to the participants at the Scrum Gathering and they loved it, too.  So much so that they asked I make it available.  So, here is the lowdown on Powerful Questions.

Powerful questions are powerful because they are truly open.

They are not asked with a “correct” answer in mind.

Most importantly, a powerful question will send people into the realm of discovery. 

They invite introspection.  They may present additional solutions.  They almost always lead to greater creativity and insight.

Now that you have the basics, here is a link to a tool I derived called Powerful Questions for Agile Teams.  It’s a list of typical team scenarios with the question I might ask off the top of my head and then some powerful questions to replace that question with something that really helps. 

For the full scoop on Powerful Questions, see the book that it came from: Co-Active Coaching.

And think about taking a coaching course from the folks at the Coaches Training Institute (CTI).  So much of this can’t be learned by reading a book although that’s a good step and will get you started.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel Rose July 3, 2009 at 6:16 pm

I’ve recently read “Community” by Peter Block and while he writes about neighbourhood and social development, the questions that he suggests as catalysts for good conversation I feel apply in almost any context.

Questions such as “what talent/skill do you personally bring to the conversation?” and “what ‘crossroads’ are we at?” and “what are you doing to impede progress in this area?” are examples of powerful questions.

Jason July 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm

great questions Lyssa, thanks for sharing!

Derek April 17, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Thanks Lyssa, this is a great post!!! I can’t wait to try these powerful questions on my team.

Tobias Mayer April 17, 2008 at 3:15 am

I missed “the talk” but thankfully found plenty of time to talk with you at the Gathering. I like the Powerful Questions idea very much and plan to introduce it on my courses. It is so easy to jump into asking closed questions: ones that force out the answers we want to hear, like stamping on a tube of toothpaste… it is waste!

Thanks for this blog entry, and for posting the Powerful Questions document

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