The Questioning Strengths Method
The Questioning Strengths Method (QSM) is a complete, research-based method developed to harness the powerful benefits of better questioning.

The QSM provides a complete solution for individuals and organisations seeking to make the most of every opportunity for great questioning. Whether that’s sharpening a sales pitch, improving communication in teams, managing difficult conversations, empowering employee voices, or designing great surveys, the QSM is an effective, comprehensive method, based on over ten years of academic research and thirty years’ practical experience in the art and science of good questioning.

It all starts with the Questioning Strengths Assessment (QSA), a validated self-assessment tool, that provides a detailed insight into your unique approach to questioning. The QSA helps you understand what kinds of questions you typically ask and how this may be effecting different aspects of your work and life. Once you've learnt about your questioning strengths, the remaining elements of the QSM are designed to help you understand, grow, and apply them. The four key components of the method are The Academy, The Gym, The Theatre and The Workshop.

Image showing the global percentage score on a strength
Image showing the global percentage score on a strength
Image showing the global percentage score on a strength
Image showing the global percentage score on a strength

We'll be releasing much more information about each of these aspects of The QSM but in broad terms they comprise sets of exercises, tools and templates to help you make the most of questioning strengths. As part of deploying the QSM in your organisation you'll get access to these tools to:

  • Learn about the theory behind the Questioning Strengths Method in the Academy
  • Develop your questioning strengths in the Gym
  • Practice using your strengths in the Theatre
  • Dive into the Workshop and take advantage of our tools, resources and planners for better questioning.

The Questioning Strengths Assessment (The QSA)

The QSA is a validated self-assessment tool designed to provide you with a complete picture of your unique approach to questioning. The QSA measures you against nine questioning strengths, each of which picks out a different type of questioning. In combination, these nine strengths make up your unique questioning strengths profile.

How did we identify the nine questioning strengths

Over ten years of academic research and thirty years’ practical experience form the basis of the QSA. From this starting point, we began actively charting different types of questions and correlating these with distinct approaches to questioning, using a combination of observation and analysis. Beginning with a set of three, which expanded up to twelve, we eventually settled on the nine distinct questioning strengths that now form the QSA. In order to confirm our observation and analysis, we then went on to test and validate the QSA using empirical measures.

How did we develop and validate the assessment

We spent over a year designing, refining, and testing the QSA. The process began by creating a total of 360 individual items (the statements in the assessment), each intended to correlate with one (and only one) of the nine questioning strengths. We tested these items with a group of independent assessors, who were tasked with blindly assessing how well each item matched up with the questioning strengths. This allowed us to reduce the number of items in the assessment to 135, keeping only those that matched well with one of the questioning strengths.

The next step was to launch a large pilot of the QSA. We ran this over two months, recruiting over 650 volunteer participants from all over the world. We then tested the pilot data using standard statistical measures, looking for internal consistency using Cronbach’s alpha-coefficient, and checking for item total correlation across the assessment. With this data we also ran a forced nine factor analysis and found that the correct items loaded consistently onto the nine strengths (and we will run further factor analyses when we have more data).

With the pilot data analysed, and the nine strengths confirmed, we reduced the number of items once more to leave only the strongest (and most predictive) items in the assessment. These items now form the final validated self-assessment: the QSA.

What is the broader research programme behind the QSA

The QSA is part of a broader research programme that focuses on the nature and value of questions and questioning. This research informs other elements of the QSM and is the basis for many of the resources and practical exercises that we are developing for The Academy, The Gym, The Theatre, and The Workshop. Research into the power and effectiveness of the QSA is ongoing and we will continue to grow and improve the assessment, in line with the data. The more people that take the assessment, the stronger our evidence will be, so if you haven’t already, go ahead and take the assessment and learn about your own unique questioning strengths.

If you'd like to find out more about the QSM and the research behind it, or have any thoughts (or questions!) to share, please get in touch.

Behind The Development Of The QSM

We've worked hard to embed a key set of characteristics into the QSM. Here's a few of the principles we're guided by:

  • A desire to share our love of good questioning, and the powerful benefits it brings, with the world!
  • A commitment to designing stimulating materials and explaining them clearly and concisely
  • A commitment to showing concern and respect for participants by creating safe and inclusive materials and exercises
  • A commitment to encouraging independent and clear thinking through better questioning
  • Teaching methods, academic tasks, and practical exercises that require participants to learn actively, responsibly, and co-operatively
  • A rigorous, research-based assessment method (the QSA is a validated self-assessment tool)
  • Highest quality feedback and insights on the work of our participants
  • A desire to continuously learn about the impact of the QSM and how it can be improved.