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A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas Hardcover – March 4, 2014
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Berger emphasizes the power of inquiry as he challenges us to see things with a fresh eye. He concentrates on game-changing questions, those that can result in actions that lead to real results. The author focuses on innovation and invention stories, explaining that in business, questions challenge authority and disrupt established structures, processes, and systems, forcing people to at least consider something different. Berger offers his framework for problem solving in three stages. The initial “why” stage involves seeing and understanding, which include noticing what others missed and challenging both our own and others’ assumptions. The second, “what-if,” stage is about imagining that blue-sky moment of questioning when anything is possible; and the third, the “how to” action stage, is about doing. Asking the right questions will help us discover what matters, what opportunities exist, and how to find them. This thought-provoking book offers important insights to executives, and to those aspiring to leadership, for their business and personal use. --Mary Whaley
“We know that the art of asking questions is at the heart of discovery in science, philosophy, medicine―so why don’t we extend that power to all areas of our lives? The thoughtful, provocative questions Warren Berger raises in this book are indeed the kind of ‘beautiful questions’ that can help us identify the right problems and generate creative solutions.” ―Daniel Pink, New York Times bestselling author of Drive and To Sell Is Human
“In the old economy, it was all about having the answers. But in today's dynamic, lean economy, it's more about asking the right questions. A More Beautiful Question is about figuring out how to ask, and answer, the questions that can lead to new opportunities and growth.” ―Eric Ries, New York Times best-selling author of The Lean Startup
“In this wise book, Warren Berger shows us how crucial it is to question every aspect of our lives, from business to school to our choice of toothpaste. My question: Why wouldn't you read this book?” ―A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author and Esquire columnist
“The genesis of many great startups is the simple question, ‘Wouldn't it be cool if?' Warren Berger helps you understand the power of questions to change the world. Real men ask questions, they don't spout out answers.” ―Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist at Apple and author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur
“Berger presents a simple three-part framework, the 'Why-What If-How' model , to guide effective inquiry.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“This thought-provoking book offers important insights to executives, and to those aspiring to leadership, for their business and personal use.” ―Booklist
“A practical testament to the significance of the questioning mind.” ―Kirkus Reviews
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I often find that books meant to help people innovate (particularly in business) have decent points to make but tend to make the same point over and over. Here Mr. Berger reminds us of the inquisitiveness of children and explores why we lose this ability as we age. Then he encourages us to bring back this ability in business, in life, and in education where he repeats the same variation on the theme over and over. However, as he keeps saying we need to question more, and as he provides some techniques to do so, he can’t say when or how exactly we should be doing this because, in fact, sometimes we shouldn’t be asking questions, we should be acting.
Still, as I said before, there is definite value in the point Mr. Berger is trying to make and many of the anecdotes from life and business that he brings in to make his point are interesting, though I’m not sure about all the asides. However, for a reader who wants to be reminded of the importance of questioning, this is a good place to begin.
There is something delightful about looking at something that seems so obvious and simple, but is far from simplistic, in detail. Berger goes through the vast swaths of research and evidence on question formation and innovation and blends it seamlessly with anecdotes, observations and questions...lots and lots of questions. To 'live the title' of the book, the text is organized around questions and, at least with the Kindle, the questions are hyperlinked to explanations at the back about their origin and relevance. This feature was wonderful and frustrating -- but largely due to technology. I read using a Nexus tablet, but my preferred reader is the original Kindle. On that latter device, the linking becomes a frustration in that it is sometimes hard to get back to your place. But that's a small point.
Berger's style of writing is engaging, balancing conciseness with informality, and using enough revisiting of ideas in different places in the text to thread ideas throughout the narrative, but not too much to feel repetitive. I loved this just as I loved Glimmer.
What a reader will take from this is that questions are important, that the best (and most consistent) innovators, leaders and scientists are typically great at asking questions and not just providing answers. Indeed, Berger makes the case that the question and answer are inextricably linked showing dozens of examples of how the habits of questioning lead to exciting outcomes. He also offers a challenge to anyone involved in education -- which, he'd argue is nearly everyone in this age of change and ongoing learning -- to examine how questions are encouraged and discouraged to shun curiosity. This has enormous implications and, as we see, gets replicated in our businesses and other organizations.
If this book does anything for you I hope it gets you to ask better questions and enjoy not always having answers. Taken to heart, the message of paying attention to the questions -- living the questions if you will -- is one that may have profound consequences on your life, work, and learning.
Using some excellent cases to illustrate principles, author Warren Berger discusses "The Power of Inquiry To Spark Breakthrough Ideas." He quotes liberally from such icons of innovation as Joichi Ito of the MIT Media Lab, David Kelly of IDEO, and Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School. My office is contained within a hub of innovation, the Cambridge Innovation Center ,on the campus of MIT, so I am always intrigued to learn new lessons about innovation and the things that may spark it.
One of the threads that weaves itself throughout this book is the fact that children are natural questioners. It is only as we grow older that we tend to squelch our innate propensity to ask questions in order to better understand ourselves and the world around us. In this book, Mr. Berger offers many examples of individuals and companies that he re-learned the art of asking great questions.
I was intrigued to learn that Edwin Land, the father of instant photography, was prompted to develop this technology when his young daughter innocently asked him why they had to wait to see a photograph that he had taken when they were on vacation as a family.
He makes specific suggestions, based on research done at the Right Question Institute, regarding how to frame appropriate questions at each stage of a process of exploration, discovery and innovation. One insight that stood out for me was the use of terminology that is useful in a group setting that disarms defensive posture on the part of those participating in the conversation. The form of the question that often provokes healthy discussion is to ask: "How might we . . . .?" He also describes the technique that has worked for many companies of replacing "brainstorming" with "question storming."
His final challenge which he poses in the final chapter of the book, is to ask how each individual might frame "a more beautiful question" that frames and sparks inquiry and endeavors to provide meaning and purpose for the rest of one's life. Inspiring!