A More Beautiful Question

The book A More Beautiful Question was recommended to me by my colleague, Simon. Berger champions the use of questions for both problem solving and idea generation. I though his “question storming” approach to creativity/idea generation was very unique. Rather than having everyone around the table trying to come up with new product ideas (answers), he recommends having everyone ask hard questions (“Why are we trying to create this widget? What problem does this widget solve?”). I particularly loved his bits on expertise and being adaptable (noted below). I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it (pairs well with Change by Design).

One of the many interesting and appealing things about questioning is that it often has an inverse relationship to expertise – such that, within their own subject areas, experts are apt to be poor questioners.

If the questions from leaders and managers focus more onWhy are we falling behind competitors? and Who is to blame?, then the organization is more likely to end up with a culture of turf-guarding and finger-pointing. Conversely, if the questions tend to be more expansive and optimistic, then that will be reflected in the culture.

“…once you became an adult, “you figured out what your job was and you repeated the same thing over and over again for the rest of your life.” Today, Ito explains,because of constant change and increased complexity, that rinse-and-repeat approach to adult life no longer works as well. In a time when so much of what we know is subject to revision or obsolescence, the comfortable expert must go back to being a restless learner.

…we’re all being challenged (or will soon be) to take some version of the marshmallow test: we’ll be expected to quickly adapt to using new and unfamiliar tools, as we try to construct new businesses, new markets, new careers, new life plans – using ever-changing technology, without clear instructions, and with the clock ticking. All of which requires people to be not only better questioners, but better experimenters. (Reference to Marshmallow Test)