The Power of Questions

by Nancy White, last edited 4/2000

Questions are your best friend as a facilitator.

First, some inspiration (thanks to one of my imaginary friends, Denham Gray (

"It is not the answer that enlightens but the question." --Eugène Ionesco

"Literature is the question minus the answer." - Roland Barthes

"It is there that the art and adventure lie, the possibility and power from my POV. It is not answers that really matter. We are more limited by the questions we ask. That we don't understand things is based on an inability to know what to ask-to even recognize phenomenon. This is the real problem with our brain and our capacity." - Stewart Hase

"You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions."

Naguib Mahfouz (Nobel Prize Winner)

The Power of Questions

Verna Allee has a small section in her book (p230) that helps the reader to appreciate the value of questions.

  • Questions are very strong attractors in the chaos of ideas, they gather, focus, attract and energize the conversation.
  • Only? questions have the power to beak our current midsets, they set in motion the deep relection needed to alter our beliefs.
  • It is the place and the space 'between not knowing and our desire to know' where we are most attentive, self-aware and alive. Questions hold the key to this special area.
  • Compelling and quality questions drive knowledge creation and expansion in a fundamental way. Knowledge emerges around good questions.
  • Questions energize and glue our conversation, draw people into the circle to participate and gather diverse opinions.
  • Questions keep the conversation moving forward, awaken dormant discourse and may be used to guide the subject back on course.

... and here is one more.

The first people had questions and they were free

the second people had answers and they became slaves