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The International Association of Facilitators (IAF) is a participatory organisation with members in more than 65 countries. As a professional association, we set internationally accepted industry standards, provide accreditation, support a community of practice, advocate and educate on the power of facilitation and embrace the diversity of facilitators.

Global Flipchart



May 2016
| Issue #3

Sparking innovation with powerful questions

By Anja Ebers

There are many ways to formulate a challenge in a language that stifles exploration, curiosity and creativity. Change the question and suddenly a group is able to come up with a firework of ideas. No wonder inquiry is one of the most powerful tools in any facilitator's toolkit. A powerful question puts you out of your comfort zone in a risky, uncomfortable environment: this is the 'groan zone'.   You feel challenged but not overwhelmed, curious to find out for what's next. 

A key way in is to start your questions with 'How might we....'. Warren Berger, an expert in questions, says each word plays a powerful role in spurring creative problem-solving. 'How' assumes that solutions exist and gives the confidence to seek them. 'Might' says the solutions we propose might or might not work, but we can still propose them. 'We' signals collaboration – we're going to work together and build on each other's creative ideas.