The power of the right question

Something I have been thinking about for quite a while now popped up again in a 12 minute interview over at Harvard Business Review with one of my favourite thinkers, Umair Haque. In the interview he talks about the Zombieconomy which is a term he coined for the economic situation we are in at the moment. He thinks the current economic crisis is for a large part the result of our inability to create sustainable value because we are focused too much on exploiting one fundamental innovation for a large period of time. This inablity is largely due to failing leadership which should push the boundaries on what is possible by asking the right questions. In his view, some examples of companies who are able to push these boundaries are Apple, Google, Tata (the Indian middle class cars), and Threadless (community powered t-shirt production). It is our inability to ask these questions which has led to the current situation.


This remark made me think of something one of my other favourite thinkers – mathematician and physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf (Dutch only) – said on the string theory. Advance in the development of this theory is not reached by researchers giving the right answers but by people who are able to ask the right questions, i.e. to think of new realities.

Makes me think about my ability to push the boundaries: am I asking the right questions?

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