Nothing stifles creativity quite like asking the wrong question.

There is a problem that needs addressing that many jump to, “How can we solve this?”  Those looking to be disruptive in any industry ask, “How can we be different? How can we leave our mark?”  Churches ask, “How can we impact our community for the good?”  Movements want to know, “How can we gain traction?” Answers to these questions result in frustration. The easy way out is mimicking the methods of those that have been successful, but this will ultimately kill a culture of creativity.

Though the question of “how?” is crucial and must be addressed, it can only be accomplished successfully and with disruptive creativity if “how?” follows the soul-searching and bedrock-layer-uncovering question of “why?”  Without knowing “why,” “how” will be aimless and burdensome.  Once you have answered the cosmic question of “why,” creativity and answering the “how” has fertile ground to flourish.

To get to the foundation of your issue, dilemma, or concern, you must ask why, but merely asking this once is not enough.  You must take the response and ask the follow-up question of “why?” and to that you apply the question of “why?” yet again.  I have discovered that you must ask this question 7 times. After this, you have arrived at the center of your issue, the problem, and you are finally ready to get creative, explore possibilities, change the world, or merely be disruptive in your industry. Yes, you will drive yourself crazy, as well as those around you. You might want to duck around the 4th use of the question “why?” in board meetings, but it is a journey with seismic shifts in thinking and action that will result. Ask “why?” before “how?” starting today and watch your creativity soar.  ”How?” you ask?  There you go again… Stop! Don’t search for results without first asking, “Why?”