The Theory Or Query? source method is a way to make sense of what is really happening in a situation through a structured questioning process rather than just forming idealised theories about what should or might happen.


The Theory Or Query? concept is based on the natural human behaviour of creating theories and stories to explain complex and uncertain situations.  Rather than stepping into uncertainty, it can seem easier to  form theories and create stories from a place of certainty. Although this can provide a feeling of certainty and the opportunity for a display of seeming expertise, complex and uncertain situations are best engaged by questioning them. Instead of forming theories and creating stories, often retrospectively,  the Theory Or Query? provides a way of stepping into uncertainty and complexity and understanding what is actually happening by using a questioning process. Using the Theory Or Query? method is a much more effective way of moving to action rather than just abstracting theories from an uninvolved position of apparent certainty.


The purpose of Theory Or Query? is to clearly identify what is happening in a situation and what the options for action actually are, so that practical actions can be taken to achieve chosen outcome. By working from first principles rather than forming theories or using conventional theories, it becomes much easier to understand the various aspects of a complex and uncertain situation. Using Theory Or Query? also enables people to move beyond entrained beliefs and pet theories, so that they can see a situation in a different way. After using the Theory Or Query? There is the opportunity to form new theories abstracted from the new information that has been identified using the querying approach. These evolved theories are often far more useful than any theories that were initially proposed.


  • • To clearly identify what is happening in a situation
  • • To clarify the reality rather than just making assumptions
  • • To move beyond assumptions
  • • To move beyond ineffective models and theories
  • • To make sense of a complex and uncertain situation
  • • To move beyond entrained beliefs and pet theories
  • • To understand different perspectives that may prove more useful
  • • To encourage practical engagement rather than just judgement and assessment


To learn how to use Theory Or Query? in your work, contact us