Amid the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, Wladimir Berroterán thinks there’s a role for entrepreneurship in resolving some of the country’s problems.
“Now is an excellent moment to be an entrepreneur,” he said. “A lot of people are looking for something to do in order to attend to the situation we have here in Venezuela.”
Berroterán works as a personal and organizational coach in the Caracas area. His firm, Caracas Coaching, defines coaching as a “relationship that unlocks the potential of each person so that they can overcome limitations, unwanted behaviors, and resolve conflicts, thus achieving our personal or professional goals.”
It’s an industry that, in the United States, is worth about $1 billion, according to the website marketresearch.com.
Berroterán says he works with students, business owners, people starting businesses, corporate managers, employees, and others. Many are seeking economic and professional opportunity in a country experiencing profound political and economic instability.
“We have a saying in Venezuela,” Berroterán said, “the Venezuelan always resolves.” (In Spanish, “El Venezuelano siempre resuelve.” Berroterán’s conversation with the Right Question Institute was held in both Spanish and English. We have translated everything into English.)
By this he means Venezuelans are not strangers to adversity and that it’s part of the national character to seek solutions and opportunity amid hardship.
“Right now is a moment of opportunity,” he said.
‘Is it possible to start a business in this crisis?’
It’s in this spirit that, two or three years ago, Berroterán discovered the Question Formulation Technique, or QFT, and thought it was a tool that could help his clients.
“All our training sessions end with a reflection, and we always provide tools for our participants to elaborate and summarize what we’ve done in the trainings,” he said. He found the QFT helped participants advance their work and provide more focus.
Their priorities mostly pertain to the world of business. When leading clients through a QFT session, Berroterán presents them with Question Focus prompts such as “organizational environment,” “leadership,” and “bad management.” Participants use the QFT as a diagnostic tool to assess organizational problems and ask deeper questions about them. It helps clients pinpoint issues they weren’t able to identify without the QFT and establish a plan of action, Berroterán said.
The process has particular resonance in Venezuela. According to Berroterán, managers, employees, and entrepreneurs regularly formulate questions about the country’s current situation. They ask things like, “Do we have the tools necessary to advance in the middle of this crisis?” “Is it possible to start a business in this crisis?” and, “Will being an entrepreneur provide me the same economic opportunities as having a job?”
The QFT is valuable, he said, because “the resulting questions are not obvious.” In particular, when clients transform open-ended questions to closed-ended questions, and vice versa, “the new question is totally different and powerful.”
“The level of reflection we achieve with the new question is absolutely different and powerful compared to the original question posed,” he said. “The focus of the new question is very powerful and superior to the original.”
Berroterán has not used the QFT outside his role as a coach, but he thinks it could make contributions to resolving the broader situation in his country.
“This type of tool should form part of one’s natural growth,” he said. “The Question Formulation Technique allows us to maintain our questioning capacity … if we lose this capacity we remain subject to other people’s direction, opinions, and ideas.”
He said it’s a tool that could be used in community meetings “not just to talk about problems, but to ask questions about what we can do.” He added it could help Venezuelans reflect in a “more constructive” manner.
“In this moment in time it’s natural for Venezuelans to complain about or question the situation, not discuss ways to improve the situation,” he said. “And we see this every time we work with entrepreneurs, that they blame government and economic circumstances but don’t ask, ‘What can we do to improve conditions in the middle of this situation?”
The QFT helps change that mindset, he said. It sharpens people’s questions — and minds — so they can establish a plan of action and become part of the solution.
It’s a way forward that has relevance beyond Venezuela’s borders as well.
By Chris Orchard: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate managers, and other participants use the Question Formulation Technique in one of Berroterán’s training sessions. Courtesy, Wladimir Berroterán.