Thursday 14 February 2013

Questioning - the primary skill for the KM professional

Finger face with a question Perhaps the most important skill for the KM professional is the skill of Questioning.

Making knowledge conscious, and making it explicit, is done through the use of questions. Poor questions result in poor knowledge, or result in knowledge never been identified in the first place. We recognise this recently when working with a company who had been trying to identify knowledge through Retrospects, without giving any training in questioning skills to theRetrospect facilitators. As a result, the knowledge was superficial and of very low value.

Questioning is important in knowledge interviews, when you are trying to help the interviewee to reflect on their experience. Group questioning works the same way in the after action review and retrospect processes. In communities of practice, the facilitator often needs to "question the question", and find out what a community member is really asking about and looking for, before they a question can be answered.

Questioning techniques include the use of open questions, the use of probing questions to get down to the next level of detail, the use of closed questions to home in on a learning point, and the use of summarising and feeding back to ensure you have fully understood the answers. Listening skills are also very important, and are part of good questioning technique.

All of these techniques can be learnt and practised, in order to develop the levels of questioning skill required by the knowledge management professional.


Rupert Lescott said...

I agree and would go further, saying that 'listening' is necessary also. Listening to what is being said (and noticing what is not) is vital if our questions are to produce

Samaritans are trained in 'active listening' in order to encourage callers to explore their feelings on what might be very difficult subjects. I think KM professionals benefit from the same skills.

Unknown said...

Fully agree about the value of questioning in general and for eliciting knowledge in a group. My experience with action learning is that teams asking questions to one another creates options that the team would not have come up with using other methods like brainstorming.

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