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Questions Are the Answer

A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life

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About the Book

2018 Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner

What if you could unlock a better answer to your most vexing problem—in your workplace, community, or home life—just by changing the question?

Talk to creative problem-solvers and they will often tell you, the key to their success is asking a different question.

Take Debbie Sterling, the social entrepreneur who created GoldieBlox. The idea came when a friend complained about too few women in engineering and Sterling wondered aloud: "why are all the great building toys made for boys?" Or consider Nobel laureate Richard Thaler, who asked: "would it change economic theory if we stopped pretending people were rational?" Or listen to Jeff Bezos whose relentless approach to problem solving has fueled Amazon’s exponential growth: “Getting the right question is key to getting the right answer.”

Great questions like these have a catalytic quality—that is, they dissolve barriers to creative thinking and channel the pursuit of solutions into new, accelerated pathways. Often, the moment they are voiced, they have the paradoxical effect of being utterly surprising yet instantly obvious.

For innovation and leadership guru Hal Gregersen, the power of questions has always been clear—but it took some years for the follow-on question to hit him: If so much depends on fresh questions, shouldn’t we know more about how to arrive at them? That sent him on a research quest ultimately including over two hundred interviews with creative thinkers. Questions Are the Answer delivers the insights Gregersen gained about the conditions that give rise to catalytic questions—and breakthrough insights—and how anyone can create them.

About the Authors

Hal Gregersen

Photo of Hal Gregersen

Hal Gregersen is the Executive Director of the Leadership Center as MIT, a prolific author and motivational speaker, recognized by Thinkers50 as one of the world’s fifty most innovative minds. He has authored or coauthored ten books, and his most recent bestselling book is The Innovator’s DNA, coauthored with Jeff Dyer and Clayton Christensen.


“I connected with this book’s message because I lived it. Everythingchanged for the better when I realized that I, like so many others, wasasking the wrong question. Our culture chases conventional notionsof success instead of nurturing what would really make us thrive. HalGregersen is absolutely right—the best way to get to a better answeris to start with a better question, and we can all learn to do that.” —Arianna Huffington

Hal Gregersen is one of those rare educators who always practices what he preaches. Deliberately, he pushes himself out of his comfort zones, and consistently, he surfaces those great questions that unlock better answers. I think it’s wonderful that, with Questions Are the Answer, he is equipping so many more people to do the same. —Clayton M. Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School

Readers of both self-help and business books will enjoy this read as a challenge to their established perspective. —Library Journal

“Creating an open environment where every manager can ask questions without fear is the first step in bringing innovation to achieve the betterment of a corporation. The author brings out how asking the right questions is the responsibility of a successful leader. A ‘must’ read for every corporate person aspiring to succeed as a leader.’  —Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys

“It’s a great insight that, if you want to arrive at a better answer, you should start with a better question. Hal Gregersen takes that observation further, exploring how to put it into daily practice. I love this book’s emphasis on creating the conditions in which creative thinking will thrive, and I love its bighearted storytelling.” —Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com CEO

As machines become exceedingly proficient at providing answers, it becomes more and more important for people to be asking the right questions. Hal Gregersen is exactly right that this is a skill we can learn -- and must teach. Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab and author of Whiplash

If you want a simple answer to the question of what matters most to creativity, then look no further than the title of this book. Mastering the art of questioning is not easy, but Hal Gregersen describes a wealth of valuable approaches that will serve you well -- no matter what kinds of problems you are trying to solve.  Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO and author of Design for Change

In his new book, Hal Gregersen reveals the power of cultivating a beginner’s mind, deep listening and continuous reflection in search of the right questions. Read this remarkable book and you will find a path to meaningful answers Marc Benioff, Chairman & Co-CEO, Salesforce