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Common Reading 2016-17: In the Spirit of Innovation: Question Storming Activities

Question Storming

These are a few sample activities on question storming using methods discussed in A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. The attached videos promote examples of how these methods can be used. Feel free to use these examples as a starting point.

5 Whys

A short explanation and example of the 5 Whys. Observe how each question digs deeper to get more impactful answers.

The 5 Whys

The 5 Whys

            “This kind of excavation-by-inquiry is becoming more widely recognized in the business world…” – A More Beautiful Question

Toyota Industries founder Sakichi Toyoda was known for using the 5 Whys strategy. The 5 Whys is a method of questioning that tries to get at the root of a problem by asking why and then re-phrasing the answer into a question. This is repeated five times in succession.

Here is an example from of A More Beautiful Question (p. 94)

            Why do you exercise?

            Because it’s healthy.

            Why is it healthy?

            Because it raises my heart rate.

            Why is that important?

            So that I can burn more calories.

            Why do you want to do that?

            To lose weight.

            Why are you trying to lose weight?

            I feel social pressure to look fit.

Your turn. Try to think of a “beautiful question” you have for your discipline and apply the 5 Whys. Don’t be surprised if you can’t answer these questions off the top of your head. That just means that you have a great opportunity to research deeper into the question. 

Habits of Mind

Regina Dugan: From mach-20 glider to hummingbird drone

TED Talk

Dugan’s TED talk discusses the potential possibilities one can achieve without the fear of failure.  Although she relays impressive technological data, the overall message of the talk is about creativity and innovation by encouraging “what if” questions. Students may be able to use this as video as a prompt for raising their own “what if” questions. Dugan appears on pages 14, 199, and 200 of A More Beautiful Question.



Habits of Mind

Think for a moment about your initial thoughts or positions as well as any information you have gathered on your topic. Take a moment to fill out the following chart.

Evidence:  How do we know what is true or false?

                  What evidence counts?

Viewpoint:  How might this look if we stepped into other shoes, or looked at it from a different direction?

Connection:  Is there a pattern? Have we seen something like this before?

Conjecture:  What if it were different?

Relevance:  Why does this matter?

A Simplified Habits of Mind Example using Regina Dugan’s From mach-20 glider to hummingbird drone TED talk ( See the video embedded above, from 13:15-13:52)

My Question






Is tobacco always a harmful cash crop?

This seems mostly true because Doe conducted the “ABC” study demonstrating the ill-effects of smoking in the “XYZ” journal.

Many researches including (fill in) agree with Doe, but others such as (fill in) disagree because…

Most studies that agree say…


Most studies that disagree say…

What if Tobacco could actually save lives? Biologists are now using tobacco for vaccines.

Tobacco could possibly save lives and still contribute to the economy if…



My Question