More beautiful question
July 9, 2018

How a book can help you, ask a more beautiful question, and why that matters

By William Buist

Books can help you do many things better, including asking a more beautiful question.

If that sounds intriguing, so is the benefit that guest blogger William Buist has gained from this book. It’s a pleasure to welcome William back. You may recall that he has blogged for us here before, on topics including GDPR/external change and physical environments.

Continuing our summer focus on reading, William shares a book review of “A more beautiful question“. It’s great to be able to share with you a recommendation for a book that has really helped a fellow leader.

Over to William, to share the insights, that this book has given him.

A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger.

I first came across this book, soon after it was published, in 2014. Then, as now, I was working as a mentor to business owners. A key part of that work, is to explore the business owners situation, and to gather insights into the challenges they face. Without question, the way the questions I asked were structured, and the intention that lies behind them, made a significant difference; to the value they added.

Questioning the way we ask questions

Warren Berger‘s book allowed me to question the way that I questioned. It’s allowed me to see, that questions have more power, than simply eliciting information. It showed me that asking the right question, in the right way, at the right moment, could create opportunity. It could uncover new insights, from the thinking that followed. Timing as well as construction mattered, if insightful breakthrough to new ideas was the goal.

“The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas”.

That’s the books subtitle. Insightful questioning can lift the ability of people to see, to examine their situation more deeply and with new clarity. That requires more than just a good questioning technique. The skills that I’ve developed and honed, since first reading Berger’s work, have a reason. Not just because I changed the style, and quality, of the questions that I asked. But, also because I changed the style and quality, of the listening that I applied; both before and after I asked a question

One of the things, that I ask myself regularly now, as a mental check, is “How well have I understood what has just been said?” That question playing in my mind, at the end of an answer, has helped. It enables me to explore topics in far greater detail. I’ve learned how often a quick check, on understanding, reveals a subtle and nuanced difference, that can be vitally important.

The importance of boundaries.

New insights appear at the boundaries of knowledge, and at the edges of experience. If we are to gain insights, from innovative change, we need to be thinking at those boundaries and edges. Only insightful questions can take us there. Once there, questioning well improves our ability to see things from an innovative perspective. Plus, questioning well, stretches our understanding.

In the end, I know that many books have changed the way that I see the world, but very few change the manner in which I walk in it. This book is the prince of those.

How have you learned to ask a more beautiful question?

Many thanks for William for sharing, both that book & how it has helped him develop.

I hope you found that review helpful. Have you also developed your questioning ability, as a leader? If so, please do share any books or resources that have helped you.

As ever, you can comment below, or on social media. Should I look forward, to hearing some more beautiful questions?