In this episode Warren Berger shares his book A More Beautiful Question which features the principle of asking the right questions. This book is perfect for the entrepreneur interested in the fundamentals of innovation and business through the relationship between asking great questions and coming up with great business ideas.
There are a number of books on questioning but I would say not too many have positioned it directly in terms of innovation. I felt like I was the first one to really position this in terms of innovation and business, to look at the relationship between asking great questions and coming up with great business ideas.
It’s good to read in its entirety in a way because it gives you a full appreciation of the significance of questioning. But I also think it’s a book you can go back to for some of the more practical tips and strategies that are offered in the book.
The most important principle has to do with the value of questions. A lot of us tend to undervalue questions because we think the real value lies in the answers. Questions may be just as important as the answers.
The first section of the book starts by making the case to the reader of why questioning is so important and why it’s such a critical part of innovation and change. I lay out a lot of evidence and stories to give the readers a great explanation of why this is so important.
In the second section of the book I step back and ask why is it that we start out asking so many questions when we are kids but ask fewer questions as we get older. I explore the idea that there is a great questioner inside all of us but overtime we may have gotten out of the habit of asking questions. I give you all the different kinds of reasons for that and also talk about our education system that really doesn’t teach or encourage questioning by students. We have lost some of our questioning skills along the way so I teach you what to do to get better at asking questions again.
The third section lays out my own system of questioning which is the why, what if and how of innovated questioning. It goes deep in terms of showing you the power of the why questions, what if questions and how questions. Each question has a different power and does different things but have an interesting relationship with each other. I explain why it’s so important to get good at asking why questions. I talk about how the what if questions help you come up with ideas and open up your imagination. The how questions are very practical action oriented questions.
The fourth section of the book I zero in on business-questioning in business. This section is all about taking some of the principles I laid out in the second section and asking how it applies specifically to business, your business and why is question so important in business. We zero in on the kinds of questions businesses need to be asking. Questions are so powerful that I think companies should think about having mission questions instead of mission statements. A mission question around a company’s goals is going to be more engaging to people than a statement.
The last section of the book I step outside of business and tie all of this into your daily life. I think all these principles of questioning apply just as much in your life as they do in business. I talk about how you can use questioning to start to deal with some of those issues in your life that maybe you have been avoiding thinking about. I show you how you can use deep and smart questions to deal with the issues in your life. I wrap-up the book by making the case that all of us should have a beautiful question, one big question, that we pursue in our lives.
“Questions are the new answers.” –Silicon Valley
“Knowing the answers will help you in school but knowing how to ask questions will help you in life.” – Warren Berger
I am a longtime journalist and author, I used to write for New York Times and Wired Magazine. I currently write for Fast Company and Harvard Business Review. Along the way I’ve written several books and the last couple of books has had to do with innovation and design thinking. The most recent book I moved from design thinking into questioning and A More Beautiful Question is focused on that aspect of innovation.
The inspiration was that I was studying a lot of entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders and one of the things I noticed was questioning. I found that a lot of great innovators and business thinkers start with great questions; they are asking the questions that no one else is asking. I wanted to see what it was about questioning, why is it so powerful and why are some people better at it than others.
The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley
Give and Take by Adam Grant
Buy A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger on Amazon today
Visit AMoreBeautifulQuestion.com for some exclusive content from the book and to take Warren’s test
Download the full transcript here
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