Inquiry – The most powerful skill anyone can master


Inquiry is the universal tool for business, science, leadership, and management.

It is the root of excellence in decision-making and consistent effective organizational design and development. For example, any investor or entrepreneur relies upon the process of “Due Diligence”, the austere systematic steps to questioning and validation all of the underlying facts and assumptions of a business. Investors are known for asking “hard questions” of prospective investees, and wise entrepenerus know they must ask these same “hard questions” of themsleves if they are going to survive, prosper and grow and if they are going to be effective in raising capital. Read More…

All great leaders, thinkers, philosophers, scientists, designers and entrepreneurs use inquiry. They ask great questions to solve great problems. Think about John F. Kenedy’s immortal inauguration address that captivated and empowered the entire courtry with one question; “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” One question to frame the leadership of a country. A question that goes down in history.

If Isaac Netwon had not wondered about the apple that fell, where would we be now in understanding our world? If Albert Einstein had not imagined himself as light and inquired into its nature, the fundamentals of our world would be very different right now.

Every great revolution has begun when someone questioned authority.

All personal and organizational transformation is powered by inquiry. It is the path to understanding the nature of our universe, our selves and our world. All of the great theologies of the world teach the fundamental premise of inquiry within as the path to understanding, empathy, intuition and enlightenment. Transformation occurs on the path of discovery not the road to conclusion.

Inquiry is the root of change and discovery.

It is the foundation for learning and it is the bricks and mortar of acquired expertise and experience. All solutions begin with questions. In the past, those who asked too many questions, were often put to death as heretics. Galileo, the “father of science” spent his last years under arrest for his contorversial “ideas”. Not so long ago, everyone thought the world was flat, and early doctors who believed in washing their hands before operations where ridiculed by their peers. Sometimes inquiry takes great courage.

The number one tool of innovation and entrepreneurship is Inquiry.

The founder of Intel “wondered” about combining circuits and created the first “integrated circuit” the mainstay of all of our electronic world. What would be doing without Albert Edison’s invention of the light bulb, which took thousands of failures to achieve success? Edison had mastered Radical Inquiry to “discover” an answer. Bill Gates wondered about a “Disk Operating System” and create MS-DOS the foundational program for PC’s and the birth of Microsoft.

Entrepreneurship and Inquiry – Essential partners

Entreperneurship is about questions, learning, discovery, innovation and transformation. It is a sandbox of questions. The most effective entrepreneurs are those who play in it with delight and master the process of inquiry. They are the ones who can build sand into sand castles, and discover the biosphere within the sand granules, or the physics of how sand sticks together, or the origins of sand. They are masters of the skill of inquiry. The point here is that it is a skill, and it can be mastered. Mastery is the difference between those who play with sand, and those who harness the power of sand.

The solutions you seek are found in the process of disciplined inquiry, and the information and solutions that are the result.

Get going start asking questions!

The difficult part of disciplined inquiry is mastering it, when most people’s brains are trained to conclude and judge, and there are so many “answers’ that others conlude are “right”. For example, most children are taught that there is a “right way” and a “wrong way to do things. But what about the “new way”? Asking too many questions in school can earn one a “D” rather than an “A”.

Nonetheless, Disciplined Inquiry can be mastered. It takes, willingness and desire, repetiton, applied practice, (taking action) and generally mentorship. Imagine a martial artist training trying to learn a black belt in karate alone. Very few will master the art without lots of desire, tons of practice and a sensei. The same is true of Inquiry. The biggest problem is that Radical Inquiry bakes most people’s noodles by creating initial overwhelm and uncertainty. One must be willing to become a practiced “Noodlebaker” to transition into the wisdom of inquiry.

So aks yourself, “Do I want to master this essential skill?’, or “Am I happy walking the same path I have continued to walk?” If the answer is yes, then get moving, start asking critical questions.

Talk to any surfer. When they started, the waves looked HUGE. As they learned the sport, this reaction to surf changed from fear and trepidation to become a thrill, beckoning the siren song of surfers when the really big waves appeared – “Surf’s Up!, Dude!

So jump in, the water is fine. The Inquiry Surf is Up!

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