Robert F. Kennedy popularized the notion that dreaming of things that never were and asking “Why not?” could change the future. In the decades since his death, the business world has focused more on efficiency than on imagining a different world. But with innovation now recognized as a key corporate capability, the value of questioning has roared back to the forefront.

Well-known American business journalist Warren Berger is exploring the impact of questioning in a book and
multimedia project he describes as “an inquiry into the value of inquiry.” He’s interviewed
business and community leaders about the impact of asking questions, and spoken to me about our “How Might We…?” approach to helping organizations imagine new possibilities, products and services.

The topic has also received attention from Canada’s business press. Last fall, television business journalist Amanda Lang published The Power of Why, in which she explores how asking questions and encouraging curiosity makes people and companies more innovative and productive.

The return of enthusiasm for questioning can only be a good thing for a business world that typically relies too heavily on following the formula, reading the rule book and finding the one right answer. The power of “How might we…?” lies in its positive, open ended implications. With it we can use well-formulated questions that encourage collaboration, dig out insight, and allow us to imagine what has never been, have the possibility of changing everything.