I find myself subtly drawn to binary questions, though I wish I weren’t.
Binary questions have yes/no answers.
They ask people to line up on one side or another. They polarize, draw lines, and take sides. They create stability around an issue, which works against agility. The split us into groups of believers and non-believers around the topic.
Consider this example of a binary question: Does the “point velocity” of a scrum team matter?
(I’m using the term ‘point velocity’ to mean measuring and tracking the number of points completed per sprint. You might use a different name for this idea.)
Since the options for answering are binary, it traps us into absolute thinking.
“Yes” means “It’s everything,” and “No,” says, “It’s nothing.”
But what if we change the question to, In what ways does the “point velocity” of a scrum team matter?
Now the question is brimming with productive discussion, perspectives, and learning.
Changing it from a binary to a non-binary question sets us free dialogue, shared understanding, and learning from each other. We can understand our differences without taking sides, and without the unspoken goal of getting to the ‘right’ answer.
It helps us stand in inquiry, tickling our curiosity
Today, notice when people ask a “Does the” question, and consider reframing as an “In what ways does the” question.
See how that impacts the answers, and if the discussion is more productive.
Write me back and let me know what happens.