Cover image for Questions are the answer : a breakthrough approach to your most vexing problems at work and in life
Title:
Questions are the answer : a breakthrough approach to your most vexing problems at work and in life
ISBN:
9780062844767
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2018]

©2018
Physical Description:
xiii, 318 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Summary:
"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 technologist Elon Musk, who routinely challenges assumptions with questions like: "What are people accepting as an industry standard when there's room for significant improvement?" 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"-- Provided by publisher.

"What if the answer to one question could improve everything: your job, your company, your life? The only thing stopping you is that you haven't asked it yet"-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

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.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this helpful book, Gregersen (The Innovator's DNA), executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, posits that true breakthroughs come through questions instead of the simple, workable answers most self-help gurus lay claim to. "Questions have a curious power to unlock new insights and positive behavior change in every part of our lives," he counsels, not just in the business setting but in personal lives as well. Setting the traditional model of regimented self-help advice on its ear, Gregersen shows that breakthroughs begin with reframed questions. To start the process, he suggests an exercise: readers should choose a challenge they feel deeply about, convene a small group to brainstorm, then discuss ideas and study the results of their thinking. Intended for both groups and individuals, more advanced methods for groups include creating safe spaces where discourse is encouraged and rewarded, and prompts for group thinking. Changing routines to take new, scenic routes in an attempt to see things in new ways, creating well-crafted stories, and listening for the unexpected are Gregersen's main seeds of advice. Gregersen's strategies will serve readers looking for innovative ways of rethinking personal fulfillment. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

To find the next breakthrough idea, simply change the question. This is just one piece of advice offered by Gregersen (The Innovator's DNA , 2011). Through first-hand experience and a lot of research, he walks readers not only through reasons to ask questions but also how to ask the right questions. For instance, Debbie Sterling, creator of GoldieBlox, developed the idea after a friend complained that there were too few women in engineering. Sterling asked, Why are all the great building toys made for boys? Telsa CEO Elon Musk tests norms with questions like "what are people accepting as an industry standard when there's room for significant improvement? In addition to these examples, Gregersen interweaves stories about companies looking cross industry to find solutions, getting people out of their comfort zones, and embracing being wrong. Readers can easily access topics, as chapters are literally questions, such as Will You Be Quiet? and Why Not Aim for the Biggest Questions? This book will offer insight to those in management and with aspirations of leadership.--Jennifer Adams Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

As executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, Gregersen (The Innovator's DNA) has many of the answers leaders and managers are looking for. Here he argues that "the way to find better answers is to ask new questions." Rather than accept conventional ways of thinking and established standards, Gregersen challenges readers to use a method he calls "perspective-changing inquiry" to help them take divergent paths toward change and improvement. The book contains successful examples of Gregersen's theory in practice, cited from companies such as Pixar and Zappos, as well as strategies that can be implemented both in business and everyday life. These include the exercise "question burst," in which he walks readers through a three-step process of brainstorming for questions that often leads to new paths of thinking, and eventually, new answers. In a well-referenced style unlike many self-help books, this work encourages readers to seek discomfort, revel in being wrong, and to be quieter (while listening and creating conditions that allow for questioning and creative thinking). VERDICT Readers of both self-help and business books will enjoy this read as a challenge to their established perspective.-Cori Wilhelm, SUNY Canton Coll. of Tech. Lib. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Ed Catmull
Forewordp. ix
Prologue: Why Did I Write This Book?p. 1
1 What's Harder Than Finding New Answers?p. 11
2 Why Don't We Ask More?p. 34
3 What If We Brainstormed for Questions?p. 59
4 Who Revels in Being Wrong?p. 98
5 Why Would Anyone Seek Discomfort?p. 124
6 Will You Be Quiet?p. 151
7 How Do You Channel the Energy?p. 175
8 Can We Raise a Next Generation of Questionersp. 202
9 Why Not Aim for the Biggest Questions?p. 243
Epilogue: What Will You Ask of Yourself?p. 268
Acknowledgmentsp. 283
Notesp. 291
Indexp. 305