A More Beautiful Question:The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas

Will it break to the right?

Warren Berger

I read this book a few years ago and put the summary aside. I went back to look at my review to see how it held up to the test of time; a test that we don’t have as much time for today. Reading – or just scanning – the excerpts is what we will tend to do. But they would be better on a page-a-day calendar. Turn the page and think for a moment. As we all feel the urge to move on, I hope that these questions about questioning cause you to pause.

The neurologist John Kounios observes that the brain finds ways to “reduce our mental workload”, and one way is to accept without question (or even just ignore) much of what is going on around us at any time.


Problem-finding is one of the most important things to do for an established business.

Today, the idea of “sitting with” and “living with” a question may seem strange, as we’ve gotten used to having our queries answered quickly and in bite-size servings.


One of the big questions Tiffany Shlain is “sitting with” these days involves our “love/hate relationship with technology. We’re so enamored of it that we’re not asking questions like ‘What is all of this technology taking away from us?”



The more preschool models itself after regular school – the more it becomes a venue for loading kids up with information and feeding them answers to questions they have not yet asked – the more it seems to squelch their natural curiosity.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? by Jean M. Twenge

The steep decline in questioning might not be alarming, in and of itself: One might conclude that children just don’t need to question as much once they’re reading and writing (and texting and googling). But the problem is, as kids stop questioning, they simultaneously become less engaged in school.


“Somehow, we’ve defined the goal of schooling as enabling you to have more ‘right answers’ than the person next to you. And we penalize incorrect answers. And we do this at a pace – especially now, in this highly focused test-prep universe – where we don’t have time for extraneous questions.”

 “I’ve always been very concerned with democracy. If you can’t imagine you could be wrong, what’s the point of democracy? And if you can’t imagine how or why others think differently, then how could you tolerate democracy?”


Research found that questions were often used by teachers primarily to check up on students, rather than to try to spark interest; such questions were apt to leave a student feeling “exposed” rather than “inspired.”

When you are anxious, you tend to become less creative and imaginative.


Increasingly, it is understood that people tend to do their best creative thinking – particularly in coming up with fresh insights and random associations by way of connective inquiry – in informal, relaxed settings, when they’re not really trying.


The main premise of appreciative inquiry is that positive questions, focusing on the strengths and assets, tend to yield more effective results than negative questions focusing on problems or deficits. People are more likely to take constructive action when they feel hopeful and recognize all they have going for them already.




Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? by Jean M. Twenge

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