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Unlocking Innovation

Leadership lessons from World Business Forum 2019 session on Beyond Creativity: Unlocking Innovation

When was the last time you were wrong, uncomfortable and reflectively quiet?

Not sure about you, but I personally had to think very hard to remember when that was, when Hal Gregersen asked us that question during his session Beyond Creativity: Unlocking Innovation at the World Business Forum NYC 2019.

In the age we are in, questions matter more than answers. The answers we get and the solutions we come up with are result of the questions we ask. But not all questions are the same. How can we ask better questions? The HOW was my key takeaway from Hal Gregersen's session.

Here are my key takeaways.

"The important and difficult job is not to find the right answer; it is to find the right question" Peter Drucker

1. Compose conditions and wait for catalytic questions

Many of us feel uncomfortable being uncomfortable; but the truth is, if you want to ask better questions, you have to seek conditions that make you feel uncomfortable, wrong, and quiet. Hal's tip was to

(1) actively seek passive data that will make you wrong and uncomfortable, and

(2) interact with people (weather it be with clients or employees) so as to start asking the right questions.

Isolation is the enemy of inquiry.

What are you actively doing to seek the passive data?

2. Listen

Leaders are responsible for building a culture of trust so people can ask tough questions. Leaders should create an environment where inquiry leads to insight and then to impact.

3. Build a habit of asking catalytic questions

  • Audit question patterns

  • Default to ask, not tell

  • Ask recursive questions; some questions are worth repeating. Most great leaders and organizations have a question they ask themselves repeatedly.

  • Craft catalytic questions: have brainstorming sessions where you only ask questions. For any challenging situation you are working on now, invite people who may have a differing worldview than you, and generate as many questions as possible about this specific challenge without answering any of the questions. Then select the few questions that matter the most from the list and find answers to those. More about Question Burst here.

4. Compose conditions where Question Burst can flourish

Finally leaders should create an environment where Question Burst can flourish. Reflect on whether your culture and environment is conducive for questions and question bursts.

These are my notes from the World Business Forum 2019 session on Beyond Creativity: Unlocking Innovation.

Ps - These are my takeaways, and they way I understood his concepts. If you want to learn more about his work, here is more information:

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