By now, we all know that key to cultivating a creative business — one driven by innovation — is to ask lots of questions. Warren Berger wrote a best-selling book about this back in 2014, called A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, which laid out the path to innovation in three parts: Why? What Ii? And how?
A good example of the Why-What If-How paradigm is the origin story of the Polaroid camera. It started, as Berger explains, with a Why question from the daughter of Polaroid co-founder Edwin Land: Why did it take so long to see the photographs Land had just taken, using a traditional camera? That “why” led to a “what if”: Could he build a darkroom within the camera? And then, “how”: What combination of chemicals and paper would make that magic happen? In 1948 — five years after that first question was asked — the instant camera was born.
Market researchers help companies stay innovative by asking important questions of consumers all the time. But we also know, from experience, that it’s not just what questions are asked, but how they’re asked; in the media maelstrom facing consumers today, many people speed through traditional surveys, doing anything to get to the end.
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