The three most important questions for anyone working in innovation, trying to be more innovative, or just looking for some inspiration are:

1. Why ?

2. Why not ?

3. How can I make that possible ?

Asking ‘Why ?’ is more important than asking ‘What?’. Asking ‘Why ?’ opens up a whole host of interesting opportunities to explore.  Asking ‘What?’ closes down opportunities to explore new ideas because it asks for hard solutions too soon.

Asking ‘Why not?’ is really helpful, it forces you not to accept the status quo. My 5 year old does it all the time. She’s right. She wants to push boundaries, she wants to control her own world and keep the opportunities to explore as wide as possible. We can learn a lot from her. When you ask ‘Why not?’ you get a load of answers starting with ‘Because..’ Question them, interrogate the reasons, it gets you to new options pretty quickly.

Asking ‘How can I make that possible ?’ means you are not closing things down too soon, not accepting defeat and not accepting the world as it is now. You might think of an idea that seems, on the face of it,  impossible,  and if you always think about things like that, nothing ever changes. How about thinking ….under what circumstances can I make that happen ?  what would it really take to get that going ?, push it around a while and see how the solution space  starts to open up.

Ask Why? not What?

Ask Why? not What?

IDEO‘s  CEO Tim Brown talks about ‘methods for having an open mind’. To open your mind, start using these three simple questions and see how you get on.