What is a Spade Question?


One of the techniques of brainstorming – of gathering a pool of possible ideas for any given issue or project – is to lead with a “spade question”. This opens the floor to an array of ideas and possibilities albeit in a focused and concentrated area.

So what is a Spade Question?

The problem with most brainstorming sessions is that people get side-tracked. They begin discussing one subject but quickly find themselves going down a whole different path. It’s not that anyone is right or left, but that the focus in the beginning wasn’t narrow enough. The best answers often evolve from the best question.

The spade represents both a conclusion and something at a distance far away.

This is what we try to focus on during the brainstorm; to produce a question that naturally narrows not our perspective but our focus. This enables us to pin-point a particular issue and address it head-on. We then broaden our creative minds to expand on all the possibilities within this range.

The best spade questions are those which address the who, what, when and where we wish to get answered.

Example:

Instead of asking:

“How to become a morning person?”

I might ask:

“How could I better arrange my day so that I get a great night’s rest and wake-up early and energized in the mornings?”


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