Questions about Questions

QuestionsAlways the beautiful answer

Who asks  a more beautiful question.

E.E. Cummings

The single most important habit for an innovative thinker may be to ask questions. A well formulated question stimulate and inspire. Questions leads to more questions and the question is why we focus so much attention on answering questions and so little on asking questions.

Warren Berger says,
“Questioning—deeply, imaginatively, “beautifully”—can help us identify and solve problems, come up with game-changing ideas, and pursue fresh opportunities.”

Part of the answer lies in the way education values answer. The educational system is built to create workers and compliance and rote memorization are valued qualities. These qualities are not necessarily valuable qualities in the 21st century and they are definitely not qualities if you want to develop innovative thinking skills.

Seth Godin says,
“Our grandfathers and great grandfathers built schools to train people to have a lifetime of productive labor as part of the industrialized economy. And it worked.”

Warren Berger is the author of the book  A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas  and he says that the most innovative and creative people tend to be good questioners. Warren interviewed and studied innovators and designers and the common factors was the way these people kept asking questions. These people asked and formulated a question or a series of questions which lead to their discoveries. Yet, question asking is seldom taught.

Warren says,

“A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something – and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.”

Hal Gregersen has used a technique called Question-Storming. The idea is to generate a few powerful questions, which may help to determine direction for a search for new ideas and information. A crucial step in Question-Storming is to improve upon the questions and an advantage with this approach is that “good and fruitful” questions have a certain attraction to people. They are the questions that captures people’s attention and after a session you feel inspired to continue to explore the question.

Another approach to asking questions is to use three words to generate ideas.

“How might we?”

This approach avoids the problems linked to using questions such as “How can we do that?” or “How should we do that?” When posing these types of question, it is easy that questions such as  “Can we really do that?” are asked. These types of questions are problematic when you are trying to generate ideas and explore possibilities that can lead to an innovation.

The book, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, is about questions that cannot be typed into a search box. Questions that challenge your thinking and inspire you to keep asking new questions. Yet questions themselves can be flawed and we must learn to question the question. The way we pose questions says something about our assumptions, biases and experiences.

“Have you visit The Right Question Institute?”

“What I am assuming when I ask that question?”

“Should I ask another question?”


10 Replies to “Questions about Questions”

    1. In the next couple of months, we will take some challenges and devise some ways you could attack them to get some (preliminary) answers, using several analytical, philosophical and creative thinking techniques. How’s that?

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