Book Summary – A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas
Questions are an important discovery tool. In our dynamic world, the ability to ask the right questions has become increasingly important. This book explains why it’s crucial to question all aspects of our work and personal lives, and how to use inquiry to uncover creative solutions and breakthroughs.
In this article, we’ll give an overview of why questions are important, how can we systematically approach innovative questioning, and put inquiry to use. For the full details, examples and tips, do get a copy of the book, or get a detailed overview with our complete book summary bundle.
The right questions, when combined with action, bring innovation. The book addresses “beautiful questions”, which are questions that are ambitious yet actionable. These catalyze change by helping us to see and think differently, and motivate action.
The Power of Questions
In the book and our full page summary, we elaborate more on (a) how our outcomes are affected by open vs closed questions, the tone of questioning etc., (b) why we stop asking questions as we grow older and enter the workforce, and (c) examples of how inquiry has been applied in education to facilitate learning.
Essentially, questions help us to frame our thoughts and contextualize the overwhelming amount of data available today, to bring about creativity, innovation and change. In education, inquiry-based schools (which focus more on questioning, understanding and application of knowledge, than tests) have delivered deeper learning and more inquisitive students. Many high-profile entrepreneurs—such as Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page—are all from inquiry-based Montessori schools.
However, simply asking more questions isn’t enough; people must also know how to analyze their own questions and decide which ones to pursue in depth. This brings us to the 3-part process of inquiry–a simple structure that we can apply for innovation and change.
Problem-solving involves different phases. Each phase comes with unique challenges, and requires a different mentality and types of questions. By giving structure to our questions and problem-solving process, we can use the right tools and approach at each stage.
• Why: Someone comes across a less-than-ideal situation, and asks “Why” to understand the situation/problem;
• What If: The questioner begins to imagine possible solutions or improvements, by asking “What If”; and
• How: The person zooms in on one of the possibilities, and figures out “How” to make it a reality.
In the book and our full 13-page summary, we explain the components of this 3-part framework in more detail; we also look at some examples, including how this process led to the creation of the Flex-Foot line of prosthetic foot products that transformed how amputees move and live).
Most companies aren’t built for questioning. Senior management tend to see questions as a threat to their credibility, chain of command and accepted practices. People also feel they have no time to ask questions, and they may not even know what to ask.
Likewise, in our personal lives, most of us are too busy to really stop and ask why we’re doing what we’re doing. Berger suggests that we may even avoid the difficult questions as we silently fear the answers they’d bring.
• Questioning in Business and at the Workplace. To succeed, businesses must now ask more expansive questions involving “why”, “what if”, and “how”, rather than old/closed questions involving “how many”, “how much” or “how fast”. These include asking questions about purpose, using “What if” questions to unlock good ideas or manage constraints, using question-storming (instead of brainstorming) to define your focus, using mission questions (rather than mission statements) to guide your organization, and building a culture of inquiry.
• Questioning for Life. While it’s useful to get ideas from seminars, self-help books etc., nothing can replace taking time out for reflection and self-questioning. Live your questions by experimenting with them, ask the right questions to confront your fears, use questions to open up your/others’ minds, and take time to find your beautiful questions.
OTHER DETAILS IN THE BOOK TO LOOK OUT FOR
The book is organized into 5 parts. It includes over 40 segments, each structured around a question about education, innovation, problem-solving, or business, e.g. “Why do kids ask so many questions?” and “Why are you evading inquiry?”. It presents examples, background and perspectives to help us think about each question.
Do get a copy of the book for the full details, get our full book summary for an overview of the various ideas and tips, or get more articles, quizzes and resources at http://amorebeautifulquestion.com.
Start using questions to create new breakthroughs in your work and life!
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