The book “A More Beautiful Question” will help you revive your inner child and use questions to solve your current problems in a creative and different way.
Questioning is the starting point for innovation. But what can companies and leaders do to encourage the collaborators to explore questioning, use this powerful tool as a method to rethink and reinvent our lives?
Warren Berger has some suggestions for you! It’s time to remember how to ask questions, instead of only looking for answers.
Come with us, this PocketBook will give you new ideas!
The book “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas”, written by Warren Berger, was first published on 4 March 2014 by Bloomsbury USA.
With 272 pages, the book is aimed at developing innovation by asking good questions. Also, it features examples of questions that the creators of Polaroid, Airbnb, and Netflix asked to develop new products and services.
In his view, children are very questioning and creative, but this ends up decreasing over time, largely due to the format of schools and companies.
That is why Berger brings a process that seeks to foster curiosity, imagination, and innovation, so essential to the sustainability of companies today.
Warren Berger is a journalist, innovation expert, and writer. Some of his other books are “The Book of Beautiful Questions” and “Glimmer” (awarded as the best Innovation and Design book of 2009, by Business Week).
Berger studied about innovative and creative people to understand how they ask questions and manage to create original ideas to solve problems.
His research on questioning and innovation was published in the prestigious American magazines Fast Company and Harvard Business Review.
“A More Beautiful Question” is for people who want to develop their capacity for innovation and creativity to fit the needs of the market.
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Have you ever noticed how children are always asking questions? There are, on average, forty thousand questions between two and five years old. This is because of the desire to know and learn, which is very big at this age.
On the other hand, the number of questions people ask drops dramatically as they get older. Do you know why this happens?
According to Warren Berger, as individuals enter schools, the culture of questioning disappears. This is because the classic education system focuses on memorizing content for tests.
In Berger’s view, many schools were designed to produce workers in an environment with little technology, in which knowledge retention was paramount.
However, holding knowledge today is not very valuable since we have access to information at the palm of our hands. Also, the dynamics of information nowadays make knowledge and techniques obsolete quickly.
Thus, it is necessary to reinvent yourself, to be a thinker, questioner, innovator, and creative. And for the author, the way to develop such skills is through the right questions.
Asking good questions leads to the development of new opportunities and the implementation of changes. Warren Berger suggests that you look for questions, not for answers.
As he affirms in the book “A More Beautiful Question”, some current revolutionary products, services, and entertainment, such as Airbnb and Netflix, have their roots in questions.
So, to thrive in a dynamic environment, companies need to question themselves more. This demonstrates a break with the classical standards that suppress questioning.
In order to do so, you need to keep in mind which questions are most important. Do you want to know what they are? Keep reading this book summary!
There are three types of questions you must follow to develop an innovative and creative idea. They are:
For Warren, these questions allow you to follow the logic of asking yourself about the current reality, which is the first step of innovation, through the question “why?” and enable the perception of a new reality through the “why not?”.
The next step is to ask “what if?” because it stimulates innovative and creative thinking.
Finally, it is necessary to think about the way or the process to be followed to put this action into practice. So you have to ask yourself “how?” to do it.
For Warren Berger, this type of question makes it possible to view a fact from a new perspective. The “why?” allows you to stop and try to view the actions again, which allows you to have innovative solutions. Also, it enables you to get to the root of the problem.
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, for example, adopted the “beginner’s mind” practice. In this way, he sought to observe situations as if it were the first time by asking the “why?”. Basically what a child does.
The Polaroid Camera came up with that question. Edwin Land’s three-year-old daughter asked her father why she couldn’t immediately see the photograph her father had just taken. He kept thinking about it and, four years later, launched the first instant camera.
While the “why” is able to inform a lot, especially about the overall scenario, asking “why not” allows you to find guidance on a possible solution.
It allows us to test the basic assumptions about how things are done. Therefore, this question is a great source of innovation.
Did you know that, among other factors, Airbnb came up with this question?
The founders realized that, at times of events, hotels were very crowded and high priced. Thus, they asked themselves “Why not rent the house where we live?” and started to develop the idea of what Airbnb is today.
Do you see the importance of questioning?
The next step proposed in the book “A More Beautiful Question” is to figure out possible solutions. So, ask yourself “what if?”.
At this stage, it isn’t necessary to be practical and realistic. Actually, you should be the opposite! Be dreamy, creative, and innovative. Just imagine several solutions to the problems identified.
Also, know that it is not necessary to invent entirely new ideas. It is possible to make a combination of existing concepts to be innovative. Do you know who did this? The creators of Netflix.
Think about it: Netflix isn’t innovative in its essence. The founders were able to merge existing video rental and monthly membership services.
The question of “What if?” allows us to think outside the box and, by doing so, we create or combine ideas.
But it is not enough to just identify the problem and dream about how to solve it. It is also necessary to be realistic and practical. So, the last question is “how?”.
Through this question, the author Warren Berger suggests that it is time to analyze how to put the action into practice and identify its relevance and feasibility.
From this point on, it’s time to reduce the number of ideas, prototype solutions, test, and validate.
This stage is the most difficult, as it requires a lot of persistence and commitment to make it work.
To start applying these techniques in your company, you need good will from the leadership.
Unfortunately, in many cases, leaders don’t like questioning. This is because asking questions can demonstrate a gap or vulnerability.
This way of leading is falling out of favor. That is why there are several small companies starting up and taking the place of many that were giants.
The most effective leaders not only offer answers but seek to question their team to awaken creativity. Therefore, the company has to be a place where people keep learning.
In the book, Berger highlights the importance of replacing brainstorming with the practice of “question storming”.
It allows for creativity to solve a problem. Meanwhile, in brainstorming, the pressure to come up with good answers may inhibit some employees.
Another tip from Warren Berger is for recruitment. For him, it is necessary to recruit questioners, as this can change the way the company thinks.
He says that companies, during job interviews, shouldn’t only focus on the candidates’ ability to have good answers, but on their ability to ask good questions.
Also, according to Warren, asking these four items (“Why?” / “Why not?” / “What if?” / “How?”) is beneficial even to personal life.
In the book “The Startup Way”, the author Eric Ries says that innovation and creativity are essential to the development and sustainability of a large company. To this end, it brings good practices to implement continuous innovation in business processes.
Ed Catmull, author of the book “Creativity, Inc.” advises that managers give more preference to people than to ideas, as creative people create good ideas, but good ideas can be destroyed by bad teams.
And in “O Poder da Criatividade”, Breno Luiz teaches you how to cultivate innovative ideas and apply them effectively in your personal or business life.
Applying the ideas of this book is very practical. You should ask yourself, whenever possible, about these 4 items:
By getting the answers to these 4 questions, you will be able to get the best out of your ideas, in addition to knowing how to identify those that are applicable and those that are not worth your investment.
We hope that the ideas proposed by Warren Berger will help you innovate! Leave your opinion in the comments, your feedback is very important to us!
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