Innovate by asking: why, why not, what if, and how.

Five year olds ask a lot of questions, but as we grow up, we generally skip this step and jump to finding answers or solutions immediately. However, that child-like inquiry is important. Asking the right questions can be far more useful when looking to go beyond the norm and be innovative. Asking questions is the way deep thinkers tackle problems and it works well for daily life as well. If we ask the right questions, it leads to a deep analysis and a better understanding of an issue, then sets up a challenge for us, a puzzle to solve. So what are the right questions to ask? The ones that stir up interest and inspire us to think differently. “Why” questions are a good start and something we’re familiar with from preschoolers. First, start questioning the seemingly obvious, and then questions the answers that come from that process. Repeat this “why” questioning, going deeper each time, until you get to something interesting. Then move to “why not” questions to start exploring options and possibilities. Next, “what if” questions can stimulate thinking in combinations, mixing ideas together to get the best of each. Lastly, draw on the exploration already done with the previous three questions, and start action by going into “how can we do things better” inquiries. This four-part method can be used for simple daily issues, or complex problems that take years to solve.

Take action: For your next problem to solve, make a game of it and jot down as many questions as you possibly can. Don’t edit, just let it flow fast and see if you can get to 100, that’s about 25 for each of the four questions.

Inspired by Warren Berger’s book, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas

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