Right Question Strategy

What is the maximum that can be achieved by teaching the minimum?
How can you organize your thinking around something you know nothing about?
How can you become an effective advocate, problem solver, and citizen?

The Right Question Strategy provides an answer to these questions.  The Strategy involves teaching two skills:

  • How to formulate questions
  • How to focus on decisions and use specific criteria for accountable decision-making 

At first glance, these might seem like fairly basic skills that everyone has in their toolbox. They are, however, deceptively simple and, in reality, very sophisticated. Moreover, these skills are vitally important. Question-formulation and focusing on decisions are foundational skills, essential for effective self-advocacy and effective democratic action.

Despite their significance, these skills are rarely explicitly taught. We have designed simple methods to help individuals learn them.

The Right Question Strategy in the Field

The robustness of the Right Question Strategy is demonstrated in how it is used to address such a wide range of challenges in so many communities around the country and the world. The staff of the Right Question Institute work to make it as easy as possible for people to learn the Right Question Strategy and to teach it to others. Here are just a few examples of what happens when the RQ Strategy is taught to people who have never had the opportunity to learn to ask their own questions and focus on key decisions that affect them.
  • Women in an adult literacy program in New Hampshire learn to advocate for themselves and secure better job training opportunities through their local welfare office.
  • Patients in community health centers in the Bronx and Brooklyn, NY learn to ask questions and participate in decisions made during their encounters with health care providers
  • Immigrant parents in New Mexico begin to ask questions about how to help prevent violence in their children’s schools and eventually organizing into a powerful local force to improve opportunities and outcomes for all children.
  • Sugar cane plantation workers in Hawaii, about to lose the sole source of livelihood, learn to ask questions and participate in decisions about how to use the land for different purposes, supporting small businesses and begin to have a say in decisions about how company-owned housing will be allocated.
  • Residents in a homeless shelter in Louisville,KY, discover the value of having a say in the school assignment process and become effective advocates for their children entering middle schools across the city.
  • Teachers in England tweet about the changes they see in their students. The teachers read an article about the Question Formulation Technique™ and immediately implemented it in their classrooms and found their students more engaged and stimulated to think in new ways than they had ever seen before.
In all these examples, educators, health care providers, and frontline staff of social services and community organizations taught the RQ Strategy to the people with whom they worked, multiplying the effect of the core RQ Strategy and demonstrating just how far and wide it can easily and cost-effectively travel.