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  • Writer's pictureDavid de Souza

A More Beautiful Question - 80/20 Summary

Updated: Nov 29, 2021


Mental Models from the book:

'A More Beautiful Question' can be summarised into 14 mental models:

1. Alloying

  • To be creative you don't have to have a unique idea. You can simply combine two or more ideas that already exist. Take features from 2 objects to create something original, surprising or interesting. Think wider than just: "What if we combine A + B". Instead think about combining A + Z or A +27

2. Authority

  • There is an inverse relationship between = being an expert and being a good questioner.

3. Ecosystems

  • "By employing the right kind of questions: open, curious, slightly provocative at times, but never judgmental, one could have a meaningful dialogue with people who are very different from you, culturally, politically and temperamentally.

4. Catalyst

  • An excellent conversation starter is: How would you like things to be different in your life?

5. Comparative Advantage

  • A valuable question to ask yourself is: What does the world need most and that I am uniquely able to provide?

6. Curiosity Instinct

  • Shift your perspective so that you are looking at the world as a curious child.

  • Question those that you disagree with in an open, curious way. Ask yourself: Why might they see the issue this way? Why do I see it differently? What assumptions are we each operating under?

  • 'What if' questions: inspire creativity & spark the imagination.

7. First Principle Thinking

  • 'Why' questions are: Probing, penetrative, and cut through assumptions.

  • Open questions encourage creative thinking, for example: What If?/Why?/How?

  • Questionstorming encourages thinking of questions instead of ideas. During a questionstorming session, the group is asked to think of 50 questions about a specific problem. "How might we....." is the best way to structure questionstorming questions.

  • "In all affairs, it's a healthy thing now than then to hang a question mark on the things you take for granted. - Bertrand Russell

8. Ikea Effect

  • Instead of asking someone a question, let them create their own question. The result is that the question becomes their question and they will take ownership of it.

  • Peter Drucker said that his greatest strength was "to be ignorant and ask a few questions". People often expected him to come up with great solutions, but he told clients: "The answers need to be yours."

9. Inversion

  • Force your brain from its natural way of thinking by purposely thinking wrong. Think of ideas that don't make any sense and mix things that don't go together. "When you force yourself to confront contrary thoughts, you jiggle the synapses in the brain".

  • One of the most important questions you should ask is: What should we stop doing?

10. Narrative Instinct

  • Open-ended questions are a springboard for opinions and stories.

11. Resistance

  • You are more likely to be challenged or ignored when you approach people with answers. When you come with a question, people can not resist advising or helping you.

12. Tendency to Minimize Energy Output

  • Our brain finds ways to reduce our mental workload and one way it does that is to accept without questioning.

13. The Map is Not the Territory

  • You improve your questioning by going out into the real world and listening and observing.

  • Self-help books try to provide answers to meaning and happiness but these answers are one-size-fits-all. To find our meaning we must learn to ask the right questions to find our answers.

14. The Red Queen Effect

  • Instead of having a mission statement, companies (and people) should think about having a 'mission question'. "It tells the outside world, "This is what we're striving for - we know we're not there yet, but we're on the journey." It acknowledges room for possibility, change and adaptability. A company that is arrogant and claims to have figured things out doesn't sound as impressive as one that is striving to answer an ambitious question.


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