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A more beautiful question

As promised today I wanted to quickly sum up some of the biggest lessons from a good book I went through a couple of years ago.

It’s worth revisiting.

The book, “A more beautiful question” by Warren Berger is an investigation of what makes questions good and how these can spark interesting and innovative ideas.

I find it’s not only applicable to entrepreneurship, but to personal life and relationships.

Or in general if you want to become a better communicator and listener.

So, here are my top 3 lessons…

1. Asking questions is a lot about learning. And “you don’t learn unless you question”.

As an expert in your field you should always strive to learn more and better. Part of this is asking yourself questions, having a check in every once in a while (every quarter?).

Here are some great questions the author proposes for this:

  • “How is my field/industry changing?
  • What trends are having the most impact on my field, and how is that likely to play out over the next few years?
  • Which of my existing skills are most useful and adaptable in this new environment—and what new ones do I need to add?
  • Should I diversify more—or focus on specializing in one area?
  • Should I be thinking more in terms of finding a job—or creating one?”

“In a time when so much of what we know is subject to revision or obsolescence, the comfortable expert must go back to being a restless learner.”

This is true even if you own a business, because you constantly have to learn about your audience, about what they want/need and about how their motivations change.

2. The most effective pattern to tackle problems with questions

In learning about successful and innovative people, the author proposes a framework that I find very clear and easy to remember when it comes to having to solve problems or generate new ideas. But also when you want to push yourself to be more curious.

It’s divided in 3 stages:

  • Why: why should I fix/change/improve this?
  • What if: what if I apply this or that solution?
  • How: after picking one of those solutions how do I make it real?

This is also the process at the base of design thinking. But I would even extend this to conversion copy. Think about it, your prospect, just landed on your site and they want to solve a problem or reach a desired state.

You can literally imagine them going through this process and asking themselves (and you/your site) these questions. Craft copy that flows from the Why (uniqueness), to the What if (paint a picture) and finally into the How (how it works) and you’ll fix 90% of your conversion issues.

3. Get into a different “habit of mind” to ask more, better questions

The author takes the example of Montessori style schools. They adopt a very different approach to learning and questioning. It can be described in these 5 skills:

  • “Evidence: How do we know what’s true or false? What evidence counts?
  • Viewpoint: How might this look if we stepped into other shoes, or looked at it from a different direction?
  • Connection: Is there a pattern? Have we seen something like this before?
  • Conjecture: What if it were different?
  • Relevance: Why does this matter?”

At the basis of these are skepticism and empathy. This is the exact approach you should use when speaking to customers and if you want to improve your product/business.

In the end is just a better way to connect the dots and be inquisitive about life.

Think about it, from a study mentioned in the book:

“Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day. By middle school, they’ve pretty much stopped asking.”

It’s crazy how much we take for granted. How many assumptions and guessing we do. Getting out of these habits is the hardest part.

A final bonus lesson sums it all up nicely and it’s also a great quick reminder for approaching your day.

From the book:

“while other mothers asked their kids ‘Did you learn anything today?’ [my mother ] would say, did you ask a good question today?

Pretty useful IMO.

Start your day with this reminder. Go ask good questions and everything will fall into place eventually.

If you need help growing your business and carrying out all the work of asking these questions, get in touch ( I only have few slots free before booking until the end of August).

brain dump?

Every day (yes!) I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

Let’s nerd about decision making, persuasion, habits, and conversion optimization.