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It All Starts With a Question, a Powerful One! - Toronto Agile Conference

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We enjoy having conversations. Who doesn't? We are social animals after all. We like to know more about each other's stories. It is a feature built-in by default. As coaches, it is vital to use this basic instinct to our advantage. The easiest way to influence people is to have a conversation with them. You can use it coaching, mentoring, transformation, or just building a relationship with them. Can you imagine any of the above not to start with a conversation? I can't!

Conversations are two-way streets. The easiest way to have a two-way communication is to ask questions. Questions can be dumb, unrelated, out of ordinary, crazy, or even beautiful. Can they be efficacious too? They can! An excellent communicator knows how and when to use Powerful Questions to make any conversation a mighty one.

Powerful Questions generate curiosity in the listener and stimulate thoughtful conversation. They are usually thought-provoking and challenges the underlying assumptions. Powerful Questions, if asked in the right tone and body language, generates creativity and new possibilities.

Is it hard to ask Powerful questions? It might be. It is not that easy, and indeed not natural for everyone. The good news is that it is something that can be learned, and relatively very easily.

I invite you to join me for a workshop on Powerful Questions. In this workshop, I am going to help you build your muscle to ask more Powerful Questions. I will give you an easy tool to make your questions more powerful, and conversations more enriched. Asking powerful questions will help you build bridges with people, you would become more empathetic with them, and do not be surprised you are going to listen more. Some of the characteristics of a great coach, one might say! Don't you agree?

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It All Starts With a Question, a Powerful One! - Toronto Agile Conference

  1. 1. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. It All Starts With a Question, a Powerful One! Shahin Sheidaei
  2. 2. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Trouble Maker & Problem Solver! Entrepreneur and Coach Who Am I? Shahin Sheidaei Founder & Principal Coach Elevate Change Inc. AGILEGAMES.CALEANAGILE.NETWORK
  3. 3. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. What are we going to talk about? ● Hearing Stories ● Conversations ● & Questions
  4. 4. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. All Fictional
  5. 5. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. How Did Someone Become an Agile Coach?
  6. 6. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Late on their first day!
  7. 7. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Late on their first day! Weren’t you supposed to start at 9?
  8. 8. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Late on their first day! How come you are late?
  9. 9. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Late on their first day! Weren’t you supposed to start at 9? How come you are late? Let’s Discuss!
  10. 10. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Late on their first day! Weren’t you supposed to start at 9? How come you are late? Let’s Pause!
  11. 11. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Body Language Tone Eye Direction Posture Combination Speak
  12. 12. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. 93% of communication is nonverbal!
  13. 13. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Writing a Playbook
  14. 14. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Writing a Playbook Why didn’t you deliver the playbook on time?
  15. 15. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Writing a Playbook What stopped you from delivering the playbook on time?
  16. 16. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Writing a Playbook Why didn’t you deliver the playbook on time? What stopped you from delivering the playbook on time? Let’s Discuss!
  17. 17. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Writing a Playbook Why didn’t you deliver the playbook on time? What stopped you from delivering the playbook on time? Let’s Pause!
  18. 18. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. What stopped you from delivering the playbook on time? How come you are late? Why didn’t you deliver the playbook on time? Weren’t you supposed to start at 9? That is, while there is value in the questions on the right, we value the questions on the left more. The Powerful Conversation Manifesto OVER
  19. 19. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Powerful Question
  20. 20. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Powerful Question Exercise ● Group of 5 people (or so, max 8) ● Order questions from the most powerful to the least powerful ● Suggestion: Two Rounds ○ Silent Round (first 3 minutes) ○ Team Round (last 7 minutes)
  21. 21. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Let’s Pause!
  22. 22. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. What’s a Powerful Question? ● Generates curiosity ● Stimulates reflective conversation ● Thought-provoking ● Surfaces assumptions ● Invites creativity ● Generates energy ● Focuses inquiry ● Touches a deep meaning ● Evokes more questions You Know it When you Hear it.
  23. 23. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. ● Generates curiosity ● Thought-provoking ● Surfacing assumptions ● Inviting creativity ● Generating energy ● Finding the “responsible” ● Finding an answer ● Building on top of them ● Following the process ● Concluding conversation That is, while there is value in the questions on the right, we value the questions on the left more. The Powerful Conversation Manifesto OVER
  24. 24. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Construction Assumption Scope
  25. 25. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Construction Assumption Scope Construction of a Question ● Question Word (an interrogative) ○ Who ○ What ○ How ● Structure of a question ○ A yes/no question ○ An either/or question
  26. 26. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Construction Assumption Scope ● Order interrogative from the most powerful to the least powerful WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE WHICH YES/NO WHY HOW? Most Powerful Least Powerful Construction of a Question
  27. 27. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Construction Assumption Scope Powerful Pyramid
  28. 28. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Construction Assumption Scope How come you didn’t arrive on time? Weren’t you supposed to start at 9?
  29. 29. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Construction Assumption Scope Assumes error and blame. Assumes good intent and potential to learn and course correct. What did we do wrong and who is responsible? What can we learn from what’s happened and what possibilities do we now see? Assumption
  30. 30. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Construction Assumption Scope Surfacing (or altering) Assumptions ● Create new opportunities ● New line of exploration ● New possibilities toward action
  31. 31. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Construction Assumption Scope ● Domain of inquiry ● Aspects of the system ● How can we change the team’s culture? ● How can we change the program’s culture? ● How can we change the organization’s culture? Avoid stretching the scope of your question too far. Scope
  32. 32. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. By understanding and consciously considering the three dimensions of powerful questions, you can increase the power of the questions you ask! The 3 Dimensions Construction Assumption Scope
  33. 33. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Make it a More Powerful Question ● In groups of 3 (triads) ● 1 talker ○ Something you are passionate about ○ Close to heart ● 2 co-questioner ○ Having a conversation, asking powerful questions ● Pause Technique ○ Pause conversation ○ As a pair let’s make it more powerful ○ Then ask question Construction Assumption Scope
  34. 34. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Let’s Pause!
  35. 35. Shahin Sheidaei | @sheidaei | sheidaei.com | © Elevate Change Inc. Any More Questions? ● References: a. Powerful Questions Exercise, an exercise from Deborah on Powerful Questions b. The Art of Powerful Question, a great mini book from the University of Manitoba ● Some examples: a. Powerful Questions, samples from the Agile Coaching Institute b. Powerful Questions, a list from the Co-Active coaching program c. 56 Powerful Questions, a list from the GROW coaching model Thanks Powerful.Cards Shahin Sheidaei Founder & Principal Coach Elevate Change Inc.

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