QUESTIONS ARE THE ANSWER : A Breakthrough Approach To Your Most Vexing Problems At Work And In LifeHal Gregersen
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Bold & Right Questions Can Lead To Great innovations And Are Essential To Human Progress
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★★ 2018 NAUTILUS BOOK AWARDS SILVER WINNER ★★
★★ HARNESSING THE POWER OF CATALYTIC QUESTIONS ★★
Do you have challenges in your professional or personal life to which you seemingly have no answers? Most of us do. Hal Gregersen, executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, author, and a motivational speaker, says we’re usually stuck because we’re asking the wrong question.
So, how do we figure out the right one?
What if you could unlock a better answer to your most vexing problem — in your workplace, community, or home life—just by changing the question? Talk to creative problem-solvers and they will often tell you, the key to their success is asking a different question.
Observing the most innovative people, it seems that one of the keys to their creativity is their capacity to correctly formulate questions to themselves. Indeed, there is a strong correlation between a good question and a good response. According to the author, when we feel trapped in a problem, a good way to get out of it is to ask ourselves many questions!
Take Debbie Sterling, the social entrepreneur who created GoldieBlox. The idea came when a friend complained about too few women in engineering and Sterling wondered aloud: “why are all the great building toys made for boys?” Or consider Nobel laureate Richard Thaler, who asked: “would it change economic theory if we stopped pretending people were rational?” Or listen to Jeff Bezos whose relentless approach to problem solving has fueled Amazon’s exponential growth: “Getting the right question is key to getting the right answer.”
Great questions like these have a catalytic quality—that is, they dissolve barriers to creative thinking and channel the pursuit of solutions into new, accelerated pathways. Often, the moment they are voiced, they have the paradoxical effect of being utterly surprising yet instantly obvious.
Drucker’s insight has long been an inspiration for Gregersen. For innovation and leadership guru Hal Gregersen, the power of questions has always been clear—but it took some years for the follow-on question to hit him: If so much depends on fresh questions, shouldn’t we know more about how to arrive at them?
He 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.
That sent him on a research quest ultimately including over two hundred interviews with creative thinkers. Questions Are the Answer delivers the insights Gregersen gained about the conditions that give rise to catalytic questions—and breakthrough insights—and how anyone can create them. That question also sent Gregersen on a research quest including more than 200 interviews with some of the world’s most creative leaders, such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
In this helpful book, Gregersen (The Innovator’s DNA), executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, posits that true breakthroughs come through questions instead of the simple, workable answers most self-help gurus lay claim to.
“Questions have a curious power to unlock new insights and positive behavior change in every part of our lives,” he counsels, not just in the business setting but in personal lives as well. Setting the traditional model of regimented self-help advice on its ear, Gregersen shows that breakthroughs begin with reframed questions.
To start the process, he suggests an exercise: readers should choose a challenge they feel deeply about, convene a small group to brainstorm, then discuss ideas and study the results of their thinking. Intended for both groups and individuals, more advanced methods for groups include creating safe spaces where discourse is encouraged and rewarded, and prompts for group thinking.
Changing routines to take new, scenic routes in an attempt to see things in new ways, creating well-crafted stories, and listening for the unexpected are Gregersen’s main seeds of advice. This book is informative and geared towards action, addressing a generally underestimated challenge. Gregersen’s strategies will serve readers looking for innovative ways of rethinking personal fulfillment.
About The Author:
Hal Gregersen is a senior lecturer in leadership and innovation at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, a former executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, a fellow at Innosight, and a co-founder of the Innovator’s DNA consulting group. He has dedicated his extensive career, including prior teaching posts at INSEAD, London Business School, and Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, to creating cultures of fearless inquiry and to helping leaders transform their organizations into innovative powerhouses. Ranked as one of the world’s 20 most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50 and winner of the 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award for leadership, Gregersen regularly delivers inspirational keynote speeches, interactive and dynamic customized workshops, and transformational advisory experiences.
In his Nautilus award-winning book, “Questions Are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life” (based on 200+ interviews with catalytic questioners like Elon Musk and Orit Gadiesh), he argues that while people are programmed to look for answers, the real catalyst for innovative, disruptive change is catalytic inquiry. Twenty years ago Gregersen created a repeatable three-step methodology, the Question Burst, by which companies can begin to build better problem solvers and enhance creative impact at all levels, from senior executives to entry-level employees. His Question Burst method, combined with four more habits of inquiry, have helped redesign company cultures around constructive questioning at Chanel, Daimler, Disney·Pixar, Ernst & Young, Fidelity, Genentech, Patagonia, Salesforce, World Economic Forum, and Zappos, among others.
Gregersen co-authored, with Clayton Christensen and Jeff Dyer, “The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators” (translated into 14 languages worldwide), a guide to cultivating the discovery skills that CEOs and entrepreneurs rely on to build and guide sustainably creative companies. Having personally interviewed 100+ ground-breaking leaders at the world’s most innovative companies, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, Gregersen draws on rigorous research and analysis (based on a database of +25,000 leaders) to successfully advise the world’s largest corporations on innovation, transformation and key leadership challenges.
Gregersen has lived and worked outside the United States for over a decade – in England, Finland, France, and the UAE. He and his wife now reside north of Boston where he pursues his lifelong avocation, photography, and she her lifelong love, sculpture.
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