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  • Writer's pictureDr. Babette Sonntag

Three brilliant questions to revitalize your ideas with new energy

Children do headstands
Take different perspectives

Sometimes we get stuck. We simply don't get any further with an idea or a solution and end up going around in circles. What can help?

  • A longer coffee break

  • Do something completely different

  • Discuss with colleagues or friends

  • Cancel a workshop

  • Postpone the discussion

But sometimes with the right questions and a relaxed inner attitude you also can move on.

The inner attitude

If you are often responsible for facilitating workshops, you know how important a well-thought-out agenda and an agreement upon objectives are. This is the basis of the work assignment and that is why moderators are often very focused on these two things. If a workshop gets out of hand in terms of time or content, it means a lot of stress for the moderator. Then sticking to the agenda and moderating it with a hard hand only works to a very limited extent and only if the content is tangible and easy to define. And, above all, if there is a general and fundamental agreement between the opinions of the participants.

These situations also often arise when we are working on new ideas. We might feel that we are stuck in a creative dead end. That increases the pressure and we have even more of a blockade.

It is very important in these situations to take a few steps back from the problem, from the actual question.

For moderators, this might mean they have to throw out their planned agenda.

For idea generators, this might mean that they have to move away from the actual question “How do I solve xy?” for a while.

This willingness to engage in completely different perspectives than planned is what I call the “right inner attitude”.

Three brilliant questions to break through mental blocks

I'll introduce you to three brilliant questions that can help you take a completely new perspective on your question and bring a breath of fresh air into your ideas:

What would you do if you couldn't fail?

My favorite question!

Whenever I ask myself this question, I notice how many restrictions and boundaries I unconsciously impose on myself in my own thinking. Quite often there's a quiet voice in the background: "What if it doesn't work?" - and so I'm dealing with hypothetical hurdles that prevent me from thinking truly creatively and freely.

So imagine that you will be successful, that you can solve all the problems that arise, that everything is possible. This opens up enormous scope for action. Then think through all the possible solutions you see. You will see that you will also become braver.

How will you know that you have been successful?

Imagine going into the office in x weeks. In the meantime, you've worked on solving your problem, done a few things differently, and implemented a few steps.

How would you know that you were/are successful? Imagine how colleagues or customers behave differently? What about your product then? Where is it? How do others talk about it? Think about what exactly would happen differently in your everyday life? Visualize that!

Now you don't know how exactly to solve your problem. But just the idea that it has been solved and what this will change in your environment will give you valuable clues: about the nature of your problem and about the levers that you can now put in motion so that everything will be okay in the end. For example, you get a clearer picture of how you want to achieve your goals in the project and what the definition of done is.

What would you have to do to make sure your plan fails?

That sounds bizarre at first. You want to be successful! Then why should you think about how you can ruin your idea or project? But it helps. Most of the project or workshop participants I have met so far have been very creative when it comes to this question.

It is very important to formulate the collected ideas into positive actions at the end!

A simplified example is: I have to make my lecture as boring as possible so that no one listens by reading from the page, not looking up and speaking as monotonously as possible. And now you turn that into the opposite statement and you have at least one starting point for doing it better.

In the end you will come up with lots of ideas for your problem. It's actually the case that this question gets the most input in workshops and that it's always a lot of fun for those involved - that's just how we are...

This questioning technique is also called the “headstand method”*

What magical questions do you know?

How do you get out of a dead end when your idea or problem or innovation is stuck?

You can find an illustration of how this can be used in the office here (in German): The headstand method: process, examples, advantages and disadvantages ( or here ( in English): Headstand - How To Find Ideas Through Problem Reversal? (, you can find more really good inspiration that makes you want to try it out here (in English): 25 Powerful Creative Problem Solving Questions You Can Use for Any Challenge | SmartStorming

Please note: This text is translated into English by using Google Translate - I apologize for any mistakes in this text I may have overlooked.


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