Here’s an example of a ‘framed’ question: (contains a fact, a condition and the question itself)
Fact: The moon controls the tides (agreed)
Condition: If the moon were to change its orbit time (e.g. double) around the Earth…
Question: What effect is this likely to have on deck-chair trade on Brighton beach?
Good questions make you think and they place you into the subject matter at a specific position.
In this case you are somewhere near Brighton Beach and you are possibly made to imagine the moon going overhead and not returning for a while longer than normal. You’re also thinking about the tide that is being influenced by the moon and when deck-chairs are used in conjunction with the tides… (not a frequent thought I’m sure!)
OK, so the question gave you a headache, but it certainly gave you the opportunity to make up your own mind without being hijacked by the question to give a prescribed answer. In fact it helped you consider the relevant facts so that you didn’t stray off the subject.
Let’s try another framed question:
Fact: “Prime Minister, you have been in office for over a year.”
Condition: “When you won the last election you stated that the country would have to suffer hardship and budget cuts in order to reduce the national debt incurred by the previous government.”
Question: “How does the national debt stand now after your first year in office?”
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Everyone has to ask questions at work or elsewhere in order to find out the truth about something. Framed questions are the best way I know of getting to the heart of a subject and they help the process and the players agree on the findings. They save a lot of frustration because they have been thought out and are structured and clear.
Have a go at asking some framed questions and study the impact they have on the person you ask. It’s worth writing down the qustion before you inflict torture on your friends or colleagues. In this way you can make adjustments and probably make a more powerful challenge without being unfair!
If you are a teacher or consultant this question technique is particularly useful… well worth keeping at hand in your top pocket. All students should learn this technique if they are interested in getting on top of their subject quickly and staying there – learn to learn before you learn to earn!
As someone who enjoys communicating in all weathers, framed questions are one of my favourite spanners in the tool-box, they serve me well when I find myself up against either a difficult situation or an awkward person!
Framed Questions are quick to prepare. If it’s important to get to the truth and you have the choice between many different types of question, what type are you likely to use in the future?
Example: Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world. If you were looking for a an unusual retail product and you had an Amazon product search tool on your website, where would you shop for the unusual product?
Find Good Questions with frames like the ones above at http://www.harry-wright.com