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Asking Too Much?

Not a chance. Questions are one of the best tools for unlocking creativity.

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This story appears in the October 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Just as an accurate road map can lead you to your destination, a good question can lead you to the optimal answer. People tend to focus on answers and not spend time crafting important questions, but a good question is a powerful tool. It can lead you to the deepest truth possible. It may lead you directly to an answer, or you may have to roll it over in your mind for a while. You may have to walk with it.

When beginning the creative process, the right question allows you to zero in on the core issue so you avoid solving a symptom or a tangential problem. A good technique for getting to the deepest reality is called the "Seven Whys." Once you've determined what problem you want to solve, ask why you want to solve that problem. If your answer is because you want to make more profits, ask why you want to have more profits, and so on. After asking "Why?" seven times, you may end up changing your goal or strategy. Then focus on finding the creative solution to that core challenge.

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