The Genius of Asking Dumb Questions

Two days ago I commented on how technical jargon can either enhance or impede communications. I ran across this quote today from the 1987 book Thriving on Chaos by Tom Peters along the same thread, and thought I’d share:

frac11Mostly, it’s the dumb, elementary questions followed up by a dozen even more elementary questions that yield the pay dirt. Experts are those who don’t need to bother with elementary questions anymore – thus they fail to bother with the true sources of bottlenecks buried deep in habitual routines of the firm labeled “We’ve always done it that way.”

We can only uncover changes in our expectations, and changes in our underlying assumptions, by asking simple questions over and over. The “5 Why’s” – that I mention in Real or Not Real – are another way to figure out what rudimentary questions to revisit to unlock insight. Remember that unlocking insight is a critical step for you or your organization to increase innovation.


2010 Update: Speaking of simple questions, a very basic question was the premise for my book Disconnected: Technology Addiction & the Search for Authenticity in Virtual Life – “if I disconnect from my virtual life, will I reconnect with my REAL one?”

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