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If you approach an entrepreneur with big dreams for their new business venture and ask them “Why are you doing this?”, their answers will most likely be a variation of the following: “I’ve noticed that there is a gap in the market for the service I will provide”, “I have a very innovative product that will change people’s lives”, “I’m sure my idea will be the equivalent of Airbnb on my field”.

These answers, although they justify to some extent the value of those business ideas, lack in the fundamental backbone to make a business successful; purpose. Saying that the market needs a product like yours, does not answer the question of why you are doing what you’re doing.

Market conditions can change, innovations will arise, and people’s needs always shift at some point – there isn’t much an entrepreneur can do about that. What they can do is understand their purpose so that, when making decisions for their business, they can know which direction makes sense for them because it aligns with what is at the core of their company.

Within established organisations not asking questions – or arguably, not asking the right questions – can also represent a huge problem for business and leadership. In order to head a company in the right direction, leaders need to ask themselves “Who am I? Why am I doing what I am doing?”.

When we speak about designing desirable futures, we need to understand what those futures mean to us, what belongs in them, what we wish they look like. To do so, we need to work on our ability to ask questions; and such competency begins when we start to question ourselves.

How can humanity increase its capacity to make decisions in an increasingly complex world? In the below TED Talk, “Thinking rethinker” Mike Vaughan shares insights from his practice helping leaders solve big problems with the power of a good question.

 

Not asking questions is a missed opportunity for organisations. In creating a culture that allows for curiosity, you will spur learning and encourage the exchange of ideas between people that wouldn’t normally work together which, therefore, will make your company function in a multidisciplinary way – and multidisciplinarity is known to be an innovation catalyst.

For some people, asking questions is natural, almost a default instinct. For others, engaging in situations that can come across as confrontational, or simply outside of their emotional comfort zone can be trickier. The good news is: the more you ask questions, the easier it becomes to continue asking them. Being inquisitive is an exercise in putting yourself out there and being open to other people’s opinions and criticism; yes, it is scary, but also yes, it is worth it.

Astrophysicist Dr Alan Duffy, argues that “modern life can seem overwhelmingly complex., so sometimes that the best way to understand something complex is to ask a simple question”. In 2015, Dr Duffy spoke at TEDx Sydney. In his brief talk, he shows the audience that by asking three simple questions – the first one asked by an 11-year-old – we can understand something as complex as the universe and so, I will provoke, understanding your peers, your products and your business real “why” should be a piece of cake.

 

If you would like to work on your ability to ask more and better questions, check out Echos’ 3-day Design Thinking Experience course.

To learn more about how to empower your creative brain, check out Echos’ course offering.

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Rani Ghazzaoui Luke

Rani is a writer and actor based in Sydney, Australia. She is Echos Head of Content & Communications, and the Editor in Chief of The Echos Newsletter.

Before joining Echos, she worked in full-service advertising agencies as a copywriter, moved onto writing for Broadcast Media, and landed on Digital Media, working first as a Digital Producer and later as a Digital Account Manager. Most recently, she was Lead Client Solutions Manager for GumGum Inc, an ad tech company specialised in Artificial Intelligence.

Rani is a highly curious individual that believes creativity and innovation are the most important tools to propel any person or business forward.

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