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Questions Are the Answer

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Questions Are the Answer

A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life


15 min read
9 take-aways
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Bold questions can lead to great innovations and are essential to human progress. 

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  • Applicable
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Asking the best questions can spark innovation and invention. The problem is that society doesn’t value probing questions or questioners. Schools, for example, often smother children’s instincts to ask about things. MIT professor and leadership scholar Hal Gregersen offers strong opinions on the need for great questions and explains why unfettered questioning is essential to human progress. He explains what constitutes a quality query and details how to pursue good answers. Gregersen’s comprehensive overview on the value of always asking will boost inquisitive thinkers everywhere.


To get the best answers, ask the best questions.

If you want the most useful answers, try to ask the most useful questions. Asking sharp questions isn’t a passive exercise. You can’t merely hope the best questions will magically occur to you. Take active steps to create promising conditions for the best questions to emerge, plan what you will ask and then elicit the best answers.

People can learn to become better questioners.

People who know how to ask great questions aren’t “born different”; they simply practice their questioning skills more often. But anyone can learn to become a better questioner. To ask better questions, adopt the perspective of childhood, a time when curiosity is natural and doesn’t arouse suspicion. Great questioners are like kids in that regard. They have a “beginner’s mind.”

The idea of skilled questioning connotes creativity and innovative thinking. Innovators exhibit a “high Q/A ratio” that reveals itself in the number of questions they ask compared to the number of answers they give in transcribed interviews. The right questions help people develop...

About the Author

MIT Leadership Center executive director Hal Gregersen, PhD, is a senior lecturer in leadership and innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He has authored or co-authored 10 books, including the best-selling The Innovator’s DNA.

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