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The Creative Priority: Ask Creative Questions, Let People Think November 23, 2009

Posted by Katie Swinerton in The Creative Priority.
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Jerry Hirshberg is the founder and president of Nissan Design International and somewhat of a guru on creativity in organizations. In his book The Creative Priority, Hirshberg discusses one of his strategies for fostering creative thinking: posing critical, creative questions. I really like this idea. When we MBAs think about brainstorming, we often think about sitting around a conference table, and throwing possible solutions up on a whiteboard. Hirshberg encourages us to abandon this approach and instead “take a step back from the canvas” and to frame our thinking around really good, compelling questions.

He says “[t]he form of a question itself contains both the limits and the potential character of its possible answers. Thinking about a car as a people-mover suggests an utterly different set of possibilities than framing it as a mode of personal transportation, an expression of individual style, or a mobile pollution device on four wheels.”

People don’t come to their ah-ha moments in meetings. These moments happen on walks, in the shower and as we’re falling asleep. By posing the right framing questions in meetings, and allowing people to take their time in pondering these, I think we can foster greater, more creative solutions in our organizations.

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