Use code "EARLYBIRD" at checkout for 10% off Accelerator & Changemaker packages. Offer expires Sunday Feb 14th.
Cart
0
Book a free coaching session
Out of ideas? These 20 coaching questions will help you get unstuckOut of ideas? These 20 coaching questions will help you get unstuckOut of ideas? These 20 coaching questions will help you get unstuck

Out of ideas? These 20 coaching questions will help you get unstuck

One of the main reasons clients hire an experienced product leader as their coach is to help in coming up with creative solutions to the challenges they face at work. [add link to what people want from a product coach - that they can't do themselves]

But, what if you don't have access to a coach?

You can ideate alone using the Lean Coaching Canvas or a similar tool. And try to come up with as many ideas as possible before narrowing them down to just the best ones. Remember, they don't all have to be great ideas to start with – the more you come up with, the more likely there will be a few good ones in there.

Activities like Crazy 8s often help here, where you put time pressure on yourself to come up with 8 ideas in 8 minutes. Or just set another target number of ideas and challenge yourself to achieve it.

But even with those activities, it's easy to get stuck with just a few ideas. Don't worry, though, help is at hand. Just by asking yourself the kind of questions a coach would ask, you can unlock ideas which have been hiding in plain sight, and find fresh inspiration to help solve your problems.

So, download your Lean Coaching Canvas, complete the first three sections, and get ready to complete the 'ideas' section with the help of these 20 coaching questions.

1. If you knew the answer, what would it be?

Sounds like a simple starting point, but sometimes just telling yourself that you do know the answer will give you the boost you need to come up with new ideas.

2. What if there were no limits?

It's often our self-limiting beliefs that hold us back from coming up with great solutions to problems. That might be belief in our own abilities or (quite often) that things are 'just like that' in your place of work. Noticing this kind of thinking is the first step to overcoming it, and this question is an important part of that.

3. What would you do with unlimited resources (and time)?

Building on the idea above, the most common limits that constrain people's thinking in the workplace are often resources, budget and time. Thinking about what you'd do if these weren't a problem can help you explore ideas you might not have considered otherwise.

4. What advice would you give a friend in your situation?

Sometimes it's easier to take a creative view of a situation when we take our personal problems out of it. One way to do that is to project it on someone else. In this case, use the question to imagine the advice you'd give someone else if they were in the same situation as you. What ideas would you suggest they try?

5. Who would you ask for help? What do you think they would say?

We all have friends or colleagues who we go to for advice. Try calling on them now. Not literally though, in your imagination. If you asked that person for help, what ideas or advice would they have for you?

6. What would (insert unusual celebrity suggestion here) do?

Aside from helpful friends, celebrities can be a great source for inspiration. For example, imagine Will Smith was in your situation - what ideas would he come up with?

90s Will Smith vs. present-day Will Smith – Who would help you more with ideas?

7. Who could help you?

Don't discount the idea of simply asking for help. Make a list of people who could help and maybe simply asking one of them could be the most powerful next action you could take.

8. What ideas do you have already?

You might already have some thing you'd thought of but discounted for some reason or another, get them back in the ideas pile – if the context has changed since you discounted them, they might be valuable now.

9. What has worked in the past?

In the quest for innovation and novel ideas, we often overlook perfectly good solutions that we might have use before. It's fine to include them in your ideas longlist.

10. If you weren't here, what would people do?

Not suggesting that you not needed in your workplace, but this question can often be quite thought-provoking. Imagine what would happen if you weren't here? How might people approach solving the problem? Would it still be a problem? Are you getting in the way of a solution somehow?

11. What would happen if you did nothing?

A variant on the previous question. If you left things as they were, what would happen? Might it be more effective to solve this problem later? Might it solve itself without your input?

12. What about if you did the opposite?

Some of the best ideas are counterintuitive. For example, charging more for a product can make it more desirable to customers, as can making it harder to obtain. Imagine if this article was titled 'You are not ready to read this article' – you'd want to know what's in it, right?

13. What's the worst idea you can think of?

As with question 12, sometimes exploring a terrible idea and why it's terrible can lead to a breakthrough or at least force you to challenge your assumptions about the problem.

14. What would you do if you could start again with a clean sheet?

Sunk

cost bias can restrict the ideas we come up with. By imagining a clean sheet, we can start to free ourselves from that bias and the restrictions it creates.

15. What's the riskiest thing you could try?

Most of us are relatively risk-averse, and with good reason. But imagine for a moment that there were no negative consequences if your idea went wrong. What new options would that create for you?

16. How could you reduce the risk?

If risk is holding you back, is there a way you could mitigate it that would open up new ideas, options or avenues of thought for you?

17. What would a long-term solution look like?

Sometimes the need for fast results is limiting. To counter that, imagine a long-term, permanent solution to your problem. How does that change your approach?

18. What's the best quick fix you could try?

The opposite of the previous question. We often get bogged down trying to think of a perfect solution when actually a quick fix will get us an equally adequate result. Are there any quick fixes that would work here?

19. If you had to solve this by tomorrow, what would you try?

An even more extreme version of the previous question. Imagine you had to solve this by tomorrow. How would you go about that?

20. And what else?

We often just need a little time to come up with great ideas. When you think you're done, try asking yourself 'And what else?' a few times to flush out any of those final ideas you've not yet explored.

These 20 questions are a great way to ideate alone, or as facilitation tools to help your line reports or your team come up with new ideas. Sometimes, though, you just want someone with professional experience and who has been in the same situation as you to give you a hand. We've certainly found that's what many product managers want from their coaches.

If you're in a position like that, or know someone else who is, book a chat with us. Our coaching consultations are always free and we can match you with a product coach who can help you with your challenges, whatever they are.

Introducing Super Blog

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Create and manage your personal blog

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Easily customize your posts

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature.

Discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Share your stories to the world!

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

The quick, brown fox jumps over a lazy dog. DJs flock by when MTV ax quiz prog. Junk MTV quiz graced by fox whelps.
Unordered List
  • List 1
  • List 2
  • List 3
  • List 4
Ordered List
  1. List 1
  2. List 2
  3. List 3
  4. List 4
Wil Procter

Head of Learning at The Product Refinery, Wil has been working in digital learning since the early 2000s designing digital learning experiences and building learning teams to solve the interesting problems that arise when learning and technology meet.

More articles

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Featured