Asking questions as a creative habit


Abraham Lincoln

“The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you never know if they are genuine.”
Abraham Lincoln

Being a bit, well, old I can remember when research exclusively meant having to physically go to a library and read stuff. And when I say read, I mean really read. You’d ask librarians, speak to subject matter experts and whittle it down yourself to a few key titles if possible. Then you’d be alone: scouring the contents pages looking for the right chapters.  Essentially it was a whole lot of reading. Then the world changed.

Behold the internet!

Often we fail to recognise how it has made stuff quicker and simpler. Now we don’t even have to read because a subject matter expert has made a video. When it comes to DIY it’s possible to “get good” at any number of things because one can watch a VideoJug or YouTube expert showing you how.

Of course, quicker and simpler isn’t always better.

As my induction to Blue Sky Performance Improvement rattles along I find an increasing need to up my understanding on various topics. This has become a curious hotchpotch of t’interweb (video or otherwise), reading actual books, working with subject matter experts and getting coached. It’s underpinned by plain ol’ fashioned questions.

Then it occurred to me that I was experiencing blended learning. Now this has me reflecting not only on the shortcomings of each method in isolation, but of my own disappointingly lazy tendencies for finding evidence to fit the crime (so to speak). So as adoring of the web as I am, my level of trust in myself needs to be policed. I am staying honest and tempering my rampant enthusiasm by one simple question.
Is that true?

Is that cynicism? Nope, it’s pragmatism dear reader. The hopeless romantic in me would love to think that everything published out there in the Cloud was good and true. Then I read about Professor Hal Gregersen at INSEAD who positively relishes asking questions of what is presented to him. Like him I now find myself helping reshape and refine existing materials, practices and processes because questions have been asked. This feels good. This adds value. So now I modify my approach.

So what if that was true?

Now we have joyously disruptive conversations around here that test current thinking and move us ahead. How very refreshing.

Abe Lincoln would be proud…

Ian-Beer - Blue sky Performance


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One Response to “Asking questions as a creative habit”

  1. Carlos Fulgêncio Says:

    Yes, ‘questioning the source(s)’ is the core principle of research in Social Sciences. Not just as a matter of “pragmatism”. Spite that helps a lot.

    What a great disruption Abraham Lincoln’s quote! Please let me congratulate you for that Ian. When I started reading your post I though… ” — This guy can’t be in Blue Sky…!” Now I dare to say this is how we help make the difference!

    It is very good to know that people at Blue Sky “now (…) have joyously disruptive conversations (…) that test current thinking and move us ahead.” Therefore it is great to share that same commitment as a Blue Sky Associate, even if from far away… 🙂 Yes, good old “Abe Lincoln would be proud…”

    So to speak I share the same common ‘background’ in research and writing papers and Training materials: from Libraries to the Internet age! And now my fellow mates call me a Internet pro… without knowing Web’s mass use was just starting when I finished my first College degree… This mix is – as Ian put it – blended Learning. Welcome to the b-Learning era! If you haven’t notice this is not the future. This is the present since, at least, fifteen years ago.

    One final remark if I may about the validation of Internet quotes. Following search engines, the Alexandra Libraria project on georeferenced digital library ( can helps locate a on-line quote. More pragmatically we always have Wikiquote ( where, once again, we must start by ‘questioning the source’…

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