Warren Berger is the repeat best-selling author of the groundbreaking book A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. He explores the power of asking questions, which is relevant to leadership, innovation, and creative problem solving. Warren looks at how the world’s leading innovators create new possibilities by becoming expert questioners and challenges audiences to start asking "Why?" and "What if?" He goes inside red-hot businesses like Google and Netflix to show how questioning is baked into their organizational DNA and shares inspiring stories of how to change your organization by raising the right questions. See full bio here.
In Silicon Valley and other centers of innovation, there’s a saying these days: “Questions are the new answers.” And no wonder, given that so many of the today’s biggest breakthroughs and billion-dollar paydays—Instagram, Nest, Square, Dropbox, Netflix, and many others—can be traced back to a founding question: Why isn’t someone doing (X)? Or, What if we tried (Y)?
But how do innovators, entrepreneurs, and top business leaders come up with game-changing questions? Is this kind of "innovative inquiry" a skill that can be developed and mastered? Can it be fostered and encouraged throughout an organization?
To answer those questions, I conducted my own years-long investigation — "an inquiry into inquiry." I studied some of the world's leading innovators — well-known entrepreneurs, business mavericks, tech disruptors — who also happened to be masters of the art of asking questions. I looked deep inside companies, such as Google and IDEO, that have questioning embedded in their DNA.
To understand the science of questioning, I talked to top neurologists and linguists, and partnered with The Right Question Institute, which is developing groundbreaking new techniques to help people become better questioners. To get a different, offbeat perspective, I even examined the way comedians, from the late George Carlin to Louis C.K., use questioning to challenge assumptions and "see" the world around them differently.
What did I learn from all this?
Why is it so important to do this? Because questioning enables us to solve problems. Adapt to dynamic change. Seize new opportunities. New research shows that those who question well are the most successful CEOs and business leaders. Questioning also makes people feel more engaged in their jobs — and an engaged, curious workforce has been correlated with higher corporate performance.
As I've begun to share this message — in my ongoing columns for Fast Company and Harvard Business Review, in my book A More Beautiful Question, and in my visits to companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and others — I've found that the subject of questioning energizes people and unlocks their creativity, inspiring them to ask their own beautiful questions.
Some key takeaways from my sessions include:
By way of lively presentations featuring surprising stories of breakthroughs that began with a question (from the cell phone to Gatorade), as well as practical tips and group exercises that inspire people to form their own beautiful questions, my goal is to help businesses and nonprofit organizations to develop their own cultures of inquiry — where curiosity, critical thinking, and innovative ideas are encouraged and fostered.
Interviewing thought leaders and moderating panels is one of Warren's specialities
WARREN BERGER'S SPEAKING TOPICS (testimonials below)
Since questioning is a starting point for innovation, how might companies and business leaders begin to encourage and exploit it?
The most creative, dynamic people—in business, the arts, science, and education—tend to be “Master Questioners.” In the anecdotes Warren Berger shares, they are fearless at questioning everything—in a highly effective way that makes them and their businesses more creative, innovative, and original.
Discover how the rest of us can learn to ask “beautiful questions” the way Steve Jobs did, leading to positive changes in our work and in our lives. Even if you already think of yourself as a questioner, you’ll come away knowing much more about this powerful tool we often take for granted.
Warren Berger leads you on an entertaining journey through what exactly design thinking is (from a layman’s perspective) and how its well-honed principles can transform your business—and your life.
Children are natural questioners, asking hundreds of questions a day between the ages 2 and 5. But then kids go to school and questioning falls off a cliff, displaced by rote memorization and standardized tests. If you believe, as Warren Berger does, that questioning is a key component of fresh ideas and innovative breakthroughs then why isn’t it taught in schools?
Berger explains how in a time of exponential change, “answers” can change every day, so our children must relearn the more crucial skill of how to ask the right questions. As a Fellow at the nonprofit Right Question Institute, Berger is privy to the Institute’s exciting programs and shares how forward-thinking educators and business leaders are grooming the next generation of innovative critical thinkers.
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The wonderful thing about the topic of “questioning” is that it’s not arcane or obscure. It’s something that everyone has some experience with but few are expert at. And those who already understand the power of questioning eagerly look forward to getting better at it. As a subject, questioning is engaging and inspiring, yet also practical and useful. And it has the virtue of being an evergreen topic: Since it isn’t pegged to latest trends or current events it remains fresh and relevant at any point.
Why not learn more about questioning today?
”Feedback regarding your presentation has been fantastic. I've received a number of notes that your speech connected perfectly with both the conference theme and an organizational opportunity. Folks are sharing your 7 takeaways across the business areas. I really appreciate what you provided to us. It has created the energy we'd hoped the event could provide, and we’re already planning to do the conference again next year.”
—Trey Whitaker, MassMutual
“Warren’s talk really got my people fired up—it introduced us to a whole new way of thinking and problem-solving.”
—Kathleen Griffith, Vice President, Saatchi & Saatchi
”We brought Warren to Venice to speak to our top Pernod Ricard brand CEOs from around the world about creativity, design, innovation, and the art of asking great questions. His presentation was chock-full of inspirational moments and fresh ideas.”
—Pascal Minella, creative consultant, Pernod Ricard
“I saw Warren deliver a keynote at the 2010 FUSE Conference in Chicago and invited him to speak at one of GE’s global design summits. His talk was fun and inspiring—challenging us to look at creativity and innovation in a fresh way.”
—Ivan Cayabyab, Global Brand Manager, GE
“Feedback from our attendees pointed to Warren’s session as one of the conference’s most thought- provoking, and his insightful thinking on questioning and how it can fuel innovation and new opportunities added significantly to the conference dialogue.”
—Chad Fleming, Conference Organizer, International Women’s Forum (IWF)
“Warren Berger’s presentation on creative thinking—and in particular his focus on “asking the right questions”—ended up being one of the most provocative and talked-about speeches of the conference.”
—Donald Hicks, Founder and CEO, LLamasoft, Inc. and host of the SummerCon International Conference on Supply Chain Design
“Warren was one of our keynote speakers at the annual DesignThinkers Conference in Toronto, speaking in front of over 1,000 design and business professionals who come together for this global event. The audience really responded to his talk on questioning and how it leads to innovation and creative breakthroughs.”
—Hilary Ashworth, executive director, ARGD Ontario, organizer of the international DesignThinkers Conference
“Warren is a frequent guest speaker at the University of Colorado, and he also served as the “professional-in-residence" at our “Innovators” series—where he interviews (in front of a large live audience as well as a live-streamed TV audience) top creative leaders and business executives from around the world. He’s not only a great speaker, he’s an excellent host and moderator—he can lead just about any type of discussion on creativity and innovation.”
—Melinda Kiger Cheval, co-creator of “Innovators” lecture series, University of Colorado