COLOR QUESTIONS. Trigger your spirit of inquiry by using “color” questioning which is a particular application of the work of Jerry Rhodes, who did extensive study and research on managers at companies all over the world. This is a technique I have used successfully many times with different customers. At the core are types of questions that one might ask when faced with a business problem. The questions are identified with colors as follows:

GREEN—Think of the color green as fertile and creative. Green is the color of imagination and ingenuity. Ask “What if?” or  “Suppose we?”

YELLOW—Think of the color yellow as neutral and objective. Yellow is the color for description of fact. Ask “What is?”

BLUE—Think of the color blue as hopeful and positive. Blue is the color for judgements and opinions of value and need. Ask “What can we do?” or “What should we do?

RED—Think of the color red as negative. Black is the color of limitations and constraints. Ask  “What can’t be done?” or “What’s not possible?”

Many of us have a tendency to favor one or two of these colors, and some of us do so in such disproportion that we are unable to entertain questions outside of our predilections. Sometimes we’ll get so hung up on a particular line of questioning that we’re prevented from moving forward.

“Color” questioning prompts you to think of questions from each of the core categories. Label four separate sheets of paper: green, yellow, blue, and red. Think of as many green, yellow, and blue questions as you can and write them on the appropriate sheets. Whenever you have a negative question, write it on the sheet labeled “red.” At a later stage, review the black questions, and try to look for ways to overcome them. You can post your questions in columns on a large sheet of paper. You can also write them on index cards and tape them to the wall under the appropriately colored card. Or, you can use colored magic markers and flip charts.

After listing as many questions as you can for each color, prioritize the questions and then decide which questions you should address first.

If you’re working with a group, simply have the participants brainstorm as many questions as they can about a specific topic. Afterward, group the questions according to colors and post them on flip charts. Prompt the group to extend each core category by asking questions such as, “What green questions might unlock our imaginations?”, “We need more blue questions?”, and “ Have we exhausted the possible yellow question possibilities?” After the group has listed as many questions as they can for each category, have the group prioritize the questions and then decide which are the most important to address first.

Michael Michalko

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: