A More Beautiful Question

A More Beautiful Question

The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas




  • Innovative
  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples


Smartphones, e-books and online shopping exist because someone asked, “Why not?” Journalist Warren Berger asserts that asking simple questions is crucial to creative problem solving. In this absorbing exploration, Berger details how innovators such as Polaroid’s Edwin Land and Netflix’s Eric Hastings parlayed “why” questions into huge businesses. Inquiry is far too rare in business, says Berger, because after the start-up phase, companies tend to perceive questions as threats to the established order. Berger outlines techniques that organizations can use to stimulate a spirit of inquiry, but this is not primarily a how-to manual. Instead, Berger seeks to inspire. Through dozens of stories and the insights of experts, he shows how you can use the right questions to see things that others miss and to expand the sphere of what’s possible. His concepts should be of particular interest to those in creative fields like design or advertising. getAbstract also recommends Berger’s vision of raising and answering “beautiful questions” to entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and anyone doing business in this era of rapid change.


It’s Not What You Already Know...

When you face a problem, you look for a solution. That seems reasonable enough, but is solution-seeking always the best strategy? You generally devise solutions by drawing on information you already know or by trying fixes that worked in the past. But what if you face a new kind of problem that requires a new kind of solution – one that no one has tried before you?

You won’t find a breakthrough idea by reviewing what you already know. Instead, follow the example of such innovators as Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs: Don’t look for answers; look for “beautiful questions” instead. The game-changing products, services and entertainment you enjoy today – including online shopping and Pixar movies – have their roots in questions. As New York Times technology reporter David Pogue asserts, such imaginative leaps occur “when someone looks at the way things have always been done and asks why.”

Three Kinds of Queries

Interviews with more than 100 creative thinkers in science, business, technology and entertainment suggest that effective questioners usually pose three kinds of queries:

  1. “Why questions...

About the Author

Journalist Warren Berger has written for Fast Company, Harvard Business Review and Wired. His book Glimmer was one of BusinessWeek’s Best Innovation and Design Books of the Year.

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