Rotman Management

Behind Every Breakthrough is a Better Question

FOR THE PAST DECADE, my focus as a scholar and consultant has been on corporate innovation. In particular, I’ve been studying the effects of asking new questions in start-ups and established organizations. Twenty-five years ago, my very first conversation with Clayton Christensen — the Harvard professor who gained fame for his theory of disruptive innovation—focused on what causes people to ask the right questions. Our collaborations since—which include co-authoring The Innovator’s DNA — have only sharpened my appreciation for the critical role that questions play in breakthroughs.

If you trace the origin of any creative breakthrough, it is possible to find the point where someone changed the question. Questions can do amazing things: Knock down the walls that have been constraining a problem-solver’s thinking; remove one or more of the ‘givens’ in a particular line of thinking; and open up space for inquiry that had been closed off. We commonly refer to this as ‘re-framing’.

Stanford Professor Tina Seelig, who studies creativity and innovation, is a big advocate of re-framing. In her words, “All questions are the frame into which the answers fall. And by changing the frame, you dramatically change the range of possible solutions.” Prof. Seelig suggests that one way to re-frame things is to think of someone quite different from yourself and try to adopt that person’s perspective on a situation. For instance, would a child interpret something differently than you do as an adult? Would someone from a different country, versus a local, start out with a fundamentally different set of assumptions?

Questions are the most effective way to re-frame any issue. In a’s term for this is ‘first-principles thinking’. When landed at the top of the list of Most Innovative Companies a few years ago, the team of us who compile that annual ranking talked to him about his knack for coming at enormous problems from new angles.

Sie lesen eine Vorschau. Registrieren Sie sich, um mehr zu lesen.

Mehr von Rotman Management

Rotman Management14 min gelesen
Creative Construction: The DNA of Sustained Innovation
Creative destruction—the idea that successful innovators sow the seeds of their own destruction—was defined by Joseph Schumpeter over 70 years ago. Is this still a phenomenon today? Gary Pisano: Absolutely. Schumpeter nailed it when he coined that te
Rotman Management7 min gelesenMedical
Disrupting the Healthcare System
What are the biggest wicked problems in healthcare right now? There are several, and from my perspective they are driven by two factors. The first is that there are so many stakeholders involved, which often means that there is no one ‘right’ solutio
Rotman Management8 min gelesen
The Dawn of a Global Cryptocurrency
AS OF JUNE 18, 2019, Facebook’s closely guarded cryptocurrency project was no longer a secret. That’s the day the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) announced that it would be joining Facebook and 26 other organizations as a founding partner of the Libra