Several innovation gurus maintain that new ideas and opportunities are the result of data gathering and incremental improvements. Business journalist Warren Berger thinks otherwise: according to his latest books, “the best way to spark breakthrough ideas is to ask more beautiful questions”.
Our normal approach to change is rather practical: we frame the issue, we wonder how can we fix this or improve that… and we come up with an answer. However, such view may narrow our thought process and condemn our work to a more limited path towards innovation.
What kind of questions should we ask ourselves? What does Berger really mean with “more beautiful questions”? “They have a magnetic quality that makes people want to answer thenm, to talk about them, to work on them… They make the imagination race. The Polaroid camera came out of a 3-year old girl’s asking “Why do we have to wait for the picture?”. That’s a beautiful question!”.
Obviously, solving problems and finding new opportunities goes hand in hand with those questions that Berger describes as fundamental (“Why are we doing this? What do people really care about?”), yet the the “crazy questions” are also pivotal for innovative developments (“What if we did this backward? What if we were to subvert all the assumptions in the field and do something that sounds ridiculous?”).
In this sense, an innovative ecosystem will be one where “a culture of inquiry flows naturally and people feel free to ask questions without necessarily knowing the answer”. Berger even goes as far as claiming that “mission statements could be replaced by questions”.
Join our innovation challenges and help us develop exciting new opportunities by asking the sort of beautiful (and crazy) questions that we have discussed in this post!