The right question at the right time can inspire business empires, scientific insights, revolutions—and, of course, books such as this one.
In a book whose title is rather more elegant than its contents, business guru Berger builds on a predecessor, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas (2013), to examine ways in which being an ardent, avid, active questioner can presumably build businesses, inspire ideas, and otherwise lead to good things in the world. The argument seems—well, inarguable, even if the author, who calls himself a “questionologist,” does allow that an all too common response on the part of the managerial class is to demand, “don’t bring me questions; bring me answers.” What to do with such people? That’s a good question, to which the answer is to understand that “having a curious, engaged, and inquisitive workforce presents challenges.” Questioning authority is one thing; questioning how and why things are done is another, an exercise that Berger puts in the lap of none other than Steve Jobs, who was in the discomfiting habit of asking why things were being done the way they were at every stop on his round of Apple’s offices. “As Jobs took on the role of the inquisitive four-year-old wandering the company,” Berger writes, “it had a powerful effect on him and those around him—forcing everyone to reexamine assumptions.” Alternating among case studies, series of model questions set within sidebars (“Why do I want to lead this endeavor?”; “Where will I ever find an original idea”; “How can I come up with an idea that will make money?”), and cheerleading, Berger makes a good case for building questioning into work culture and work flow. But a question emerges: Just how many books can this questionology business sustain?
There’s nothing overly challenging here, but Berger’s approach might prime the pump for deeper inquiries.