Organization Development Network of Western New York

Open Ended Questions: Processing your learning and development program

Posted in Facilitation, Organizational Development, Team Development by Michael Cardus on April 22, 2009
TeamBuilding processing. Effective Team Development

TeamBuilding processing. Effective Team Development

Open Ended Questions: Super Size Your Team Building Program

Using open ended questions is a tool that a team building facilitator uses to bring participants to inquire, reflect and examine what was learned. These questions have no right answer they are meant to trigger thought and insight in the team members.

These questions can be used for front loading – setting up the thoughts prior to the beginning of a team building activity.
These questions can also be used following an activity to reflect on the team and where they are going.

Here are some examples of open ended questions that get results and inspire team work;

What was the first clue that the situation was not going well? How did the chaos stop? What had to happen before you could start working towards a solution? What type of solution were you, as small teams, striving for? What are some real examples from your work lives that mirror this activity? As a team initiative, which elements of high performing teams were evident and which elements needed more emphasis? Clarity of purpose and clarity of roles are essential for team performance. How did these two factors influence performance? What similarities do you see between this and the workplace? Is there anything we want to focus our attention on in future initiatives? How did you use your planning time? Was everyone incorporated into the planning, if not why? Those of you who did not feel part of the team what stopped you from pushing your way in? Was a common language created? How is this like work? How can we implement our learning into the team? What strategies did the group develop to implement an effective solution? What was the consequence of change during the activity? What strategies did the group develop to adjust to change? What recommendations does the group have for managing change at work based on the experience? How did this activity build trust? What changes have you noticed since you finished the stages? How did you overcome any anxieties? How well did you coach your partner?

Using an open ended question can raise ideas and create solutions that teams never thought possible. In your next meeting try some of these questions they will bring out the power of teams – and the power of facilitation.

Michael Cardus


2 Responses

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  1. Peter Wendel said, on April 22, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Mike’s ideas about open ended questions led me to the idea that “People aren’t taught – they learn.’

    And that brought me to two people, sources of ideas of how we engage people in ‘interactive learning’ that replaces the traditional ‘Open head and pour in knowledge’ that we were subjected when we were in school.

    One source is Ellen Weber, our presenter in Batavia in March. Here newsletter acn be found at

    The other is someone I just discovered. Don Tapscott wrote ‘Growun up Digital’ a book that talks about how young people – the ones who grew up in the digital age – learn, which is much more interactive, collaborative. There is a great 26 minute video interview that you can look at be following the following steps:

    go to
    That will take you to Allan Gregg’s web page
    Now go to the top of the left margin ALLAN GREGGS VIDEOS – Click there.
    This will bring you to the Tapscott interview video.

    It’s a mind blower!

    Pete Wendel

    • mikecardus said, on April 23, 2009 at 12:03 am

      I feel that you have proven this theory of “Young people – the ones that grew up in the digital age” a partially false notion.
      You Pete are learning great deals and amounts of information and harnessing the technology to further everyones learning (and I know you are not in years one of those young people, although in mind and spirit you are young!)

      Also yes Ellen is great!

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