When Is the Last Time You Hung A Question Mark?

“It’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, advocate for social reform, and pacifist

Boy, this sure seems easy to say but can be hard to do. It is a quote I likely will keep in my back pocket to use in organizational change presentations and discussions as a way to set the stage for helping people understand it is okay to consider new ways of thinking and doing. This does not mean that the way your organization, your team, you have been doing things is wrong. Sometimes it just never hurts to try a new point of view, especially if you feel stuck.


To use the simple Nike phrase: Just do it!

Based on the culture of your organization and/or team, decide up front if you want to let people know that you will be explicitly hanging question marks during the next few team meetings.

Or, consider expanding the experiment to engage your team: ask your team members to rotate being the ‘hanger’ every day for a week or two. Ask them to write a brief reflection at the end of their day to share with the team once the experiement ends. Reconvene after the set time period, and discuss what you learned collectively. See if there are any learnings that you can weave into how your team operates.

What I know for sure is that organizational changes are pull of question marks; so, we all might as well learn to embrace them vs. fight them. Happy hanging.

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Sandra Schwan

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