The Role of the Question

 The Role of the Question

It is often asked in various green design or LEED™ Green Building Rating System seminars, “How do you convince a client or a boss to use LEED or take environmental issues seriously?” The answer is you, on your own, can’t convince anyone to do anything. People must be ready to question before they will listen to an answer. However, you can be proactive to help create a shift in thinking. This requires an appropriate facilitation process, patience, or both.

It is either necessary to offer new ideas to provide a context in which people can begin to question themselves and compare concepts, or, offer questions that allow the listener to see things in a different framework. In fact, new perspectives can not only be discovered they can be elicited - “elicited” in this context, means answers or viewpoints that may have been “there” but have never surfaced because of a particular, dominant, societal framework. Through this questioning process the listener may formulate a newer construct that can be tested (questioned) against past experience or with others to begin the process of assimilating a new framework and perspective on an issue. In general, people truly learn when they are curious enough to ask. They then become “available” to listen or find the answers themselves.

The role of the question is fundamental to learning. Few of us internalize anything of value until we are ready to ask a question. That is why our predilection of focusing on the technologies of green design is the slowest way to achieve market transformation. When a technology is proposed as a solution to a green building issue, we are in effect saying we have the answer for you. But do we? Have we made an assumption about the need? Have we asked the right question in the first place? Do we even have the expertise in place that can provide context to inspire the right questions?