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Question Burst: Becoming better questioners

License: *CC BY-SA 4.0*

This document is a facilitator’s guide I created to the Question Burst activity based off a workshop I attended in Chicago, Illinois, United States on 16 July 2019. I interwove language across sections of my notes to make this a reusable resource for me (and hopefully others) in the future. To goal of this document is to provide a concrete resource to help people become better questioners by understanding the power of reflection and inner dialogue.


The following is a transcript of hand-written notes I took. This might be useful to understand the purpose and context of this activity.

  • Being wrong, uncomfortable

    • Uncomfortable → optimistic empowerment (a.k.a. savoring)

    • How to get from coping to savoring?

  • Savoring

    • Time: Uninterrupted

    • Reducing stress:

      • Internal self/world

      • Pushing back on negativity with optimism and skepticism

    • Managing complexity: Mutually positive and negative (finding a middle ground)

    • Attentional focus:

      • Mindfulness and being present

      • Staying focused on where we want to be

    • Self-monitoring: Be in the moment and find gratitude in the present

    • Social connection:

      • Interactivity

      • Being conscious of connections

  • Hold loose expectations of future: Life doesn’t always go accordingly to plan; so be open-minded

  • Finding these life-savoring moments have an impact on our day-to-day lives

    • Externally: Nature, other people, art

    • Internally: Strengths, mindfulness


      not calculated, effortless, habitual

  • Challenges as opportunities to grow

    • Parallel between team sports and open source collaborators???

    • Context of environment == key

  • In summary:

    • Embrace discomfort

    • Reframe problems into different questions

    • Give (or force) reflection time

Part 1: Challenge Investigation

Originator: Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of MIT Leadership Centre


  • Challenge Headline

  • Emotional Scan #1

  • Your Questions

  • Emotional Scan #2

Challenge Headline

Identify your Challenge Headline. This could be a role, a project, a specific task, or a long-term goal. The Headline could be worded this way:

As an incoming Product Manager of Whiptail Industries, I want to build a collaborative and effective team culture.

Emotional Scan #1

When you think about your Challenge Headline, how does it make you feel? Write a few words to summarize your emotions and how you feel. Are you calm or excited? Nervous or confident? Capable or overwhelmed?

Your Questions

Are you ready to play a game?

Items needed

  • 4-5 people (possible with less, just not ideal)

  • Timer

  • Paper/writing utensil for each person

How to play

This is a team exercise, preferably in teams of four to five. There are a few roles to play on the team: the Challenger and the Questioners. One Questioner (with the Timer) will also be the Timekeeper.


The following steps are repeated for each member of the group:

  1. Designate one person to be the Challenger for this round; other group members are Questioners

  2. Timekeeper: Set timer for 2 minutes, start timer

  3. Challenger: Share your Challenge Headline with the group and explain some context to your situation (e.g. why does this matter to you?) (no interruptions!!!)

  4. When timer ends, Challenger has a brief moment to finish

  5. Timekeeper: Set time for 4 minutes, start timer

  6. Questioners: Thinking of the Challenger’s situation, what questions do you have? One person at a time asks a question to the Challenger.

  7. Challenger_: Without replying to any questions, write down every question asked to you on paper

  8. When timer ends, Challenger finishes writing final questions

Emotional Scan #2

Read through the questions you were asked. When you think about the Challenge Headline now, how does it make you feel? Make note of a few of your emotions and feelings (e.g. calm/excited, nervous/confident, etc.).

Part 2: Theme Groupings

Group questions by common themes. Give each theme a name. Insert the grouped questions together in boxes.

New pathway

Identify the new pathway you will explore further

Part 3: Individual reflection

Character traits of Positive Psychology


  • Creativity

  • Curiosity

  • Love of learning

  • Open-mindedness

  • Perspective


  • Bravery

  • Authenticity

  • Persistence

  • Test


  • Kindness

  • Love (capacity to love and be loved)

  • Social intelligence


  • Fairness

  • Teamwork


  • Forgiveness

  • Humility

  • Prudence

  • Self-regulation


  • Appreciation of beauty and excellence

  • Gratitude

  • Hope

  • Humor

  • Spirituality


  1. Think about one or two great interactions with people or your surroundings, where you felt "flow" or savoring.

  2. What character traits (above) did you express in those moments? Write them out.

  3. Rewrite the new pathway from earlier in a new section on the paper.

  4. Attach 1-3 character strengths that will lead you further down your pathway.

  5. Write a specific way in how you will apply each strength to your pathway. Think about creating another moment of flow and savoring.

  6. Repeat for any additional pathways.

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