What if you could unlock a better answer to your most vexing problem—in your workplace, community, or home life—just by changing the question?
Talk to creative problem-solvers and they will often tell you, the key to their success is asking a different question.
Take Debbie Sterling, the social entrepreneur who created GoldieBlox. The idea came when a friend complained about too few women in engineering and Sterling wondered aloud: "why are all the great building toys made for boys?" Or consider Nobel laureate Richard Thaler, who asked: "would it change economic theory if we stopped pretending people were rational?" Or listen to Jeff Bezos whose relentless approach to problem solving has fueled Amazon’s exponential growth: “Getting the right question is key to getting the right answer.”
Great questions like these have a catalytic quality—that is, they dissolve barriers to creative thinking and channel the pursuit of solutions into new, accelerated pathways. Often, the moment they are voiced, they have the paradoxical effect of being utterly surprising yet instantly obvious.
For innovation and leadership guru Hal Gregersen, the power of questions has always been clear—but it took some years for the follow-on question to hit him: If so much depends on fresh questions, shouldn’t we know more about how to arrive at them? That sent him on a research quest ultimately including over two hundred interviews with creative thinkers. Questions Are the Answer delivers the insights Gregersen gained about the conditions that give rise to catalytic questions—and breakthrough insights—and how anyone can create them.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Foreword Ed Catmull ix
Prologue: Why Did I Write This Book? 1
1 What's Harder Than Finding New Answers? 11
2 Why Don't We Ask More? 34
3 What If We Brainstormed for Questions? 59
4 Who Revels in Being Wrong? 98
5 Why Would Anyone Seek Discomfort? 124
6 Will You Be Quiet? 151
7 How Do You Channel the Energy? 175
8 Can We Raise a Next Generation of Questioners 202
9 Why Not Aim for the Biggest Questions? 243
Epilogue: What Will You Ask of Yourself? 268