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Unpack your mind,
one question at a time.

Scrap traditional Socratic questioning. Question the structure of your knowledge making.



A question-based hack to systemic thinking.

What things am I choosing to see and not see?



How are these things organized into part-whole groups?


How are these things related (and not related)?


Do these relationships have parts?


From what or whose perspective?

How it works

Four patterns, infinite questions.

Move beyond the conventional Who, What, Where, When, Why.

ThinkQuiry helps us to see things about systems but also to consider some of the things we are not seeing. It also helps us to look at systems from multiple perspectives. When we do look at things from multiple perspectives, it doesn't just shift the point of view, it also changes the distinctions we make, the relationships we do or do not see, and the way we organize parts into a coherent whole. Below, you can see that just my combining the Distinctions rule (identity-other or what is and what is not) with the other three rules (S, R, and P) we get a number of very important questions that can be asked universally of any topic, issue, problem, or system.

ThinkQuiry Questions

Ask the right questions.

Delve deeper. Unveil perspectives. Follow actions. Get nuanced.

For making distinctions.

  Are these all the identities that you need? Is there something important missing?

  Are any of your identities overlapping or redundant?

  Do your identities represent specific constructs? Could you add language to make them more distinct?

  Do any of your identities cause you to marginalize or overlook other identities?

  For each identity you make ask yourself, "What is the cognitive opportunity cost?" Am I okay with that cost?

  How does analyzing or deconstructing what-some-thing-(identity)-is-not, help you to define the boundary of what it is?

  Do any of your explicit identities communicate implicit bias?

  Should you articulate the assumptions (i.e., perspectives) that underlie your choice of language/distinctions?

  Are my distinctions MECE/NONG (Mutually Exclusive Collectively Exhaustive / No Overlaps, No Gaps)?

  Are my distinctions necessary/sufficient?

  From what perspective (set of assumptions) am I making my initial distinctions?

  Am I othering (Creating a marginalized other)? Could things be distinguished differently?

For grouping parts and splitting wholes.

 Would my analysis benefit from turning any distinction into a whole and considering its parts?

 Are there parts missing in any of my existing wholes?

 Have I considered how the parts are related?

 Should I zoom into any part and deconstruct it further into parts of its own? (i.e., make a part a whole)

 Do the parts look different from different perspectives? (e.g., named differently, seen or not seen)

 Does the existence of parts in one whole indicate a certain part should be included in another whole?

 Are there parts that should be a perspective on some part of my map?

 Would laying out the parts differently (left, right justified or freehand) make my map easier to read?

 How are things organized into part-whole groupings/systems?

 From what perspective are my groupings being made? Could things be organized differently?

 Am I locked into categorical thinking?

For tracking actions and their reactions.

 Are these all the relationships that I need? Are there relationships missing?

 Should any of my relationships be directional (arrows)?

 Should I identify/distinguish any of the relationships? (i.e., give them a block and a name)

 Should I zoom into any of these relationship-distinctions and consider their parts? (i.e., create an RDS)

 Do the relationships look different from different perspectives? (e.g., named differently, seen or not seen)

 Are there relationships between relationships?

 Are there systems of relationships? (e.g., short or long feedback loops)

 Are there relationships between the parts of 2 or more systems? (i.e., an R-channel)?

 Would laying out the Ds and Rs differently (moving things around) make my map easier to read?

 Have the parts of systems and subsystems been sufficiently related?

 Do any of the current relationships need to be distinguished? Systematized? (RDS)

For taking perspectives.

  Do the distinctions, relationships, or part-whole organization of my map reveal an implicit perspective (i.e., bias, assumptions, root perspective, etc.)

  Would my analysis benefit from adding a perspective(s) or turning any distinction into a point of view?

  Are there /missing/important perspectives that would provide insight?

  Have I looked at the alternatives to the perspectives I have included?

  Should I zoom into any perspective and think of it as being made up of parts which are sub-perspectives? (i.e., many perspectives are not homogenous)

  What perspective is the whole system from? Am I okay with that?

  Do the distinctions, relationships, part-whole organization or perspectives taken look different from a different perspective?

  If I took a moment to look at the entire map from the perspective of each node in the map, does it reveal hidden and important complexities?

  Would laying out the parts differently (left, right justified or freehand) make my map easier to read?

  Is there anything in the system analysis that should be a perspective on the whole?

  Are all of my perspectives “with eyes”? What about conceptual or other non-living perspectives?

Inquiry tool.

Add a word or concept in the box(ex) below to generate questions.

Word or concept

Word or concept (optional)


  1. What is ?
  2. What is not ?
  3. How would you distinguish between and ?
  4. Can you compare and contrast and ?


  1. What are the parts of ?
  2. What is a part of?
  3. Can you name some parts of the parts of ?
  4. What are the parts of the relationship between and ?
  5. What are the parts of when looked at from the viewpoint of ?


  1. What ideas are related to and what ideas are related by ?
  2. What idea relates and ?
  3. How are the parts of related?
  4. How are the parts of related to ?
  5. What are the relationships among and and other things?


  1. When looking at , can you identify the perspective it is viewed from, and the subparts of that perspective?
  2. Can you think of from multiple perspectives?
  3. How are and related when looking at them from a new perspective?
  4. What are the parts of when looked at from multiple perspectives?