Visual Thinking Question Categories #1

This is part two of a three part series that breaks down how to use visual thinking questions to help you solve problems more effectively. Below you will find the links to each article within this series:

In the second part of the three part series of articles that break down visual thinking question categories, I will highlight eight question categories you can use to help you solve problems more effectively as you move through the visual thinking process.

Please keep in mind that each of these categories is still a work in progress. At a later time I will provide you with specific visual thinking techniques and strategies you can apply to each question category. However, even though you don’t yet have the visual thinking framework in place, you can still use these questions to help you solve problems the traditional way.

1. Identification Questions

These types of questions will help you to define the problem you are facing and the solution you are seeking to find. It’s critical that you always begin the visual thinking process by asking these questions.

  • What problem am I facing specifically?
  • Is this the real problem, or is there also an underlying problem that I’m not seeing?
  • What is my desired outcome?
  • What specifically do I want to achieve? (clearly state your ideal outcome)
  • How can I visualize this?

Application

Use these questions to help build the foundations for all remaining categories of questions you will use as you move through the visual thinking process. It’s important to be very specific here and identify exactly the problem you are facing and the type of solution you are wanting to find.

2. Hindsight Questions

These types of questions help you to reflect and learn lessons from the past that are relevant and applicable to your current problem and circumstances. It’s important to ask these questions early, as they will help you to learn from past mistakes and errors.

  • Have I experienced this problem before?
  • Have others experienced this problem before?
  • How was the problem solved in the past?
  • How effective was the solution?
  • What can be learned from this experience?
  • How can I visualize this?

Application

Use these questions to help you acquire relevant knowledge about the history of this or any problem that is relevant to your current circumstances. Identify lessons learned from your own experience as well as other people’s experiences with this problem. Once you have acquired all relevant information, look at ways you can use it in the present moment to help you solve your problems more effectively.

3. Planning Questions

These types of questions will help you to outline a step-by-step plan of action to tackle the problem at hand. These questions should be used early throughout the visual thinking process to help you lay-out a clear path to your ideal outcome.

  • What resources do I have on hand to help me solve this problem?
  • How could I use these resources to help me solve this problem?
  • What tasks do I need to undertake specifically to solve this problem?
  • What priority level do I give each of these tasks?
  • How much time must I allocate to complete these tasks?
  • When will I start? How will I begin? And when do I plan to finish?
  • How can I visualize this?

Application

Use these questions to help you identify existing resources and tools you have on hand to help you solve the problem. Also use these questions to lay out a solid plan of action that will pave the way forward towards a solution. This is obviously not a comprehensive list of questions, however it will help you get things started and moving in the right direction.

4. Fact-finder Questions

These types of questions are designed for the purpose of collecting information that will later be used for analysis and study to help you solve your problem. These questions often only have one correct answer, however multiple answers are not uncommon.

  • When did this problem originate?
  • How long has this problem persisted?
  • Who has been affected by this problem?
  • How have people been affected by this problem?
  • How can I visualize this?

Application

Use these questions to help you gather the information you need about your problem. Look only for fact-based evidence and information that is relevant to the problem at hand. The more data you collect here about the problem, the more you will have to work with as you make progress through the visual thinking process.

5. Clarification Questions

These types of questions will help you to analyze the data you have collected in a critical way. This will help remove hidden assumptions and conclusions you may have reached during the fact-finder stage.

  • What does this piece of data tell me?
  • What does this really mean?
  • Am I seeing the full picture here? Is there more to this?
  • Is there enough evidence, or do I need more information?
  • Does this make logical sense?
  • How can I visualize this?

Application

Use these questions to explore the data you have collected in a logical and critical manner. Question the data in order to get a more rounded view of the information pertaining to the problem. The biggest mistake you can make at this stage is to jump into a visual thinking “solution-mode” while holding onto incorrect assumptions.

6. Association Questions

These types of questions help you to combine different pieces of data into related groups — helping to construct meaning in order to make more sense of the information under study. You are basically looking for common associations that you can link together to form relationship chunks that will help improve comprehension and understanding.

  • How are these things related?
  • What common elements can be found?
  • How can I organize this information in a logical way?
  • What criteria can I use to make relevant connections?
  • How can I visualize this?

Application

Use these questions to create a solid structure for the data you have collected about the problem. The better you organize this data, the easier you will find relevant patterns and relationships as you continue to work your way through the problem.

7. Sorting Questions

These types of questions divide information into categories, based on relevance. Use these questions to determine whether something lies within or outside a boundary you have stipulated. These questions are often closed-ended, requiring a Yes or No answer.

  • Is this relevant to the problem I’m trying to solve?
  • Is this information worth keeping?
  • Where will I place this information?
  • How can I visualize this?

Application

Use these questions to help you define boundaries for different types of information related to your problem. The better you are able to sort this information the clearer the problem will become, and the more insights you’re likely to gain as you continue to move through the visual thinking process.

8. Simplification Questions

These types of questions divide information into smaller chunks or groups in order to help you grasp larger pieces of information more easily. These questions are critical when dealing with large complex problems with a lot of information.

  • What are the different components of this problem?
  • How can I break this information down into more manageable pieces?
  • How could I chunk this information down into its smallest components?
  • How can I visualize this?

Application

Use these questions to help you break down complicated or large chunks of information into manageable pieces. After you do this, you will be better able to work-with and manage the information pertaining to your problem.

More Visual Thinking Question Categories…

l will discuss the remaining eight visual thinking question categories within the next post.