What Can We Learn from “Master Questioners”?

In my research for the book A More Beautiful Question, I interviewed more than a hundred innovators, entrepreneurs, artists, and creative thinkers—all of whom tend to use questioning as a central part of their work. I also drew from the writing and research of well-known questioners who are no longer alive, but whose influence lives on.

So what can we learn from these “Master Questioners,” past and present?  A lot. They provide great insights and examples on how to tackle challenges by asking great questions. And they remind us that the smartest, most successful people are not the ones who think they have all the answers. Some of my articles, profiles and interviews with these “Master Questioners” can be seen below. (And the complete list of all the questioners—individuals and organizations featured in A More Beautiful Question—is in the sidebar.)


Master Questioners: Articles,

“Today, we can’t afford to become adults”

“Today, we can’t afford to become adults”

MIT’s Joichi Ito’s thoughts on change, questioning, and childlike wonder

Can questioning help us to keep up in ‘exponential times?’

Can questioning help us to keep up in ‘exponential times?’

Futurist John Seely Brown says “Yes!”

Is questioning the starting point of creativity?

Is questioning the starting point of creativity?

Neuroscientist Susan Greenfied offers a view inside the creative mind.

If not you, then who?

If not you, then who?

Entrepreneur Mick Ebeling makes a difference by taking ownership of big questions.

How do you get people to care about water?

How do you get people to care about water?

Matt Damon and Gary White know.

Eric Ries: What if everyone in the company could answer their own questions?

Eric Ries: What if everyone in the company could answer their own questions?

Eric Ries and the role of questioning within the Lean Startup methodology.

Peter Drucker: The consultant as “Master Questioner”

Peter Drucker: The consultant as “Master Questioner”

Why was Peter Drucker so in demand?

Panera: A place where the questions are baked-in

Panera: A place where the questions are baked-in

Questions fuel Ron Shaich’s business.

“Neoteny”: How can we release the 5-year-old questioner inside all of us?

“Neoteny”: How can we release the 5-year-old questioner inside all of us?

LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner and Albert Einstein

Is knowing obsolete?

Is knowing obsolete?

TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra reframes the way we think about learning.

A historian’s view of questioning

A historian’s view of questioning

Historian David Hackett Fischer and six universal axioms.

Profiles and Interviews

What happened when young Woz asked “Why”

What happened when young Woz asked “Why”

Steve Wozniak has lots of stories. But the ones I found most interesting have to do with Wozniak’s curiosity as a boy. When he would ask his engineer father questions, the answers changed Wozniak’s world. Whose world have you changed lately?

Can you see the opportunity right in front of you?

Can you see the opportunity right in front of you?

A repost of my HBR.org article about releasing your inner George Carlin in order to innovate.

How do we connect? (And how do we disconnect?)

How do we connect? (And how do we disconnect?)

Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain & tech.

A historian’s view of questioning

A historian’s view of questioning

Historian David Hackett Fischer and six universal axioms.

A beautiful question that spawned a futuristic car

A beautiful question that spawned a futuristic car

Frank Moss at MIT Media Lab.

The DNA of a master questioner

The DNA of a master questioner

Guess what’s one of the 5 essential skills great innovators share? Author and educator Hal Gregersen talks about how businesses need to integrate questioning into their culture in order to be more innovative.

Inquiring about the “Good Life”

Inquiring about the “Good Life”

Jonathan Fields and the “Good Life Project” video interviews.

How will you measure your life?

How will you measure your life?

Business guru Clayton Christensen gets personal.

How do we put the ‘cool’ in school?

How do we put the ‘cool’ in school?

Tony Danza’s year of teaching.

Take ownership of your questions

Take ownership of your questions

Mark Noonan’s pain became a great idea.

Know some famous questioners?

Know some famous questioners?

Tackling big questions with Morgan Freeman and Alan Alda

A question that defined a life

A question that defined a life

If you’re looking for an example of what I would call a “beautiful question”—a question that takes on a big and important idea, one that causes people to step back and re-assess the way they think—consider King’s famous question, “Can we all get along?”

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