Asking questions is the most important skill in the future. Finding the possible answers of the question is the next most important skill.
A question helps you land in a couple of possible answers or it might be an open ended question which is basically an infinite set of possible answers.
The set of possible answers to the question lead to hypotheses. Hypotheses help validate or reinforcement our knowledge. This kind of hypotheses testing is crucial for the modern entrepreneur.
Asking question is also the optimal approach to your life. Bellman equation actually models this in a Reinforcement Learning framework where you keep testing out a set of possible answers and pick the one that looks best. You may fall a few times, but statistically speaking, your chance of success is the most that way.
Asking question is also a very powerful technique to solve a problem, especially problems in your own life. Given all the information in the world on the internet, one needs to come up with the right questions to reach an answer. This is the scientific method. With more and more information available at our fingertips, it would be the ones with the learned ability to form the logical sequence of questions, who will be able to find answers to the most important problems, and become successful entrepreneurs and thought-leaders. With everyone having somewhat equal access to information, there will be a level playing field for all. The ones who find problems under the guise of a question and willing to jump off the cliff would be the ones bringing the most positive change. Asking the best question will be the survival skill of the Homo sapiens in the modern 4th industrial revolution age.
Question everything, especially the status quo. Could you live a better life if something were not as it is? Be uncomfortable with problems you see everyday, the ones your mind decides to ignore because you are too familiar with the problems and you know there is a solution that works however tiny bit of pain it causes. If you can make it 1% better and help 1 million people get its benefits, that is a real tangible Total Addressable Market. Paul Graham would like you to snatch these opportunities to become an entrepreneur. Because all these micro problems will help you find a solution that could become a viable business had you asked questions to yourself, could that thing be any better?
That tiny bit of improvement can also lead to a big innovation down the road. Thomas Alva Edison, who had an astounding number of patents, famously said that he had to genuine ideas, he only improved existing solutions to existing problems. If you noticed, problems often disguise as questions.
There are simple frameworks for coming up with the right question. Let me present a few I personally use a lot
- Use the basic maths concepts, could you divide the problem? Do multiple solutions add up to a new solution? This way of asking questions on how to add, divide, subtract, and multiply a concept is useful as a Critical Thinking technique.
- Find patterns, find similarities or dissimilarities
- Find the Wh questions. Who, Where, What, When, Why, and How. When you are making a decision, ask yourself why you are doing it, then what are you going to do, then how you are going to do it. This is the famous Start with Why TED talk by Simon Sinek. You can also ask yourself when are you going to do it. Remember, the difference between a dream and a plan of action is this when question. Until the moment you realize your life is short and you better set a time for your dreams to come true, it barely lead up to an action towards the fulfillment of your dream in the real world.