Warren Berger frames up the purpose of his book “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas” perfectly: We’re all hungry today for better answers. But first, we must learn to ask the right questions.
Berger’s book and fascinating website are dedicated entirely to the discipline of forming and asking better questions. There are questions we ask of ourselves and others nearly every day that tend to be easier: How do we save money? How do we fix this problem?
But questions that address mission and purpose— both personal and professional — are more challenging. Berger submits there are key questions we must tackle early and often. These are questions we should keep asking again and again as times changes, as markets changes, and as people change.
- Why are we here in the first place? Keep this question front and center at all times. To quote one highly successful entrepreneur, when we’re focused on the main goal, the thing that really matters, it’s like we’re “a dog chasing a tennis ball.” Don’t take your eye off that tennis ball.
- If we disappeared, who would miss us? And why? This question brings into focus what makes you unique and valuable, and who your core customers are and why they need you.
- How can we become a cause and not just a company? If you want to really bond with customers, ask how you can connect with them on a deeper level—one that taps into something people really care about. Customers and talented employees crave brands and companies that stand for something bigger than dollars and cents.
- What are we willing to sacrifice? There are times that require choosing the cause versus the bottom line. They are hard choices but think through them carefully with the right set of questions.
- How can we make a better experiment? The way to make better products is by first getting better at experimentation. This means that instead of asking the question, What will we make?, the emphasis should be on What will we learn?
- What is your mission question? How might we take what we do and use it to actually change the world? Give yourself something to pursue. Share it with partners, from the people who work for you to your customers.
These questions can help you figure out what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you might do it better.
Have a great week.
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