Pre-school children ask about 100 questions a day, but most kids have all but stopped asking questions by middle school. Many researchers believe that this decline in questioning is the result of a school system that rewards knowing the answers rather than asking good questions.
Things don’t get any better in the business world. Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School Professor, has observed that business leaders who are anxious to act often consider questions to be inefficient and something that impedes progress. Meanwhile, many employees believe that asking questions will make them seem uninformed
or even insubordinate.
Whether people realize it or not, today’s lack of questioning skills is a huge problem for business leaders who are trying to innovate. In his new book entitled A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, Warren Berger reveals that many of the most creative, successful business leaders are expert questioners who weren’t afraid to ask questions—starting with why, what if, and how.
Think about how you run your company, department, or workgroup. Who helps you challenge prevailing ideas about your industry or how you get your work done? Who makes you question your own assumptions? Do you encourage employees to ask, “Why do we do it this way? What if we tried a different way? How could we do things better?“