We are often told that questions are more important than answers. This is because you can quickly get answers from so many places such as Siri, Google, Internet, Quora, LinkedIn, and other expert sources. Today, you can get answers to just about anything fast. If you want to succeed individually or organizationally, you have to become good at asking questions.
Asking questions is good, but what is better is to ask bold, provocative questions that make people think. They are often not asked for fear of how others will react to them. But they must be asked if you want to come up with breakthrough ideas. If you want to think like an entrepreneur, solving customer needs that they may not even know they have, starts with a question. That's what entrepreneurs or those with an entrepreneurial mindset do.
In his book New to Big by David Kidder, he writes that the idea of his company Bionic started when he asked a provocative question to GE's CEO, Jeff Immelt, at their annual conference in Boca Raton, FL.
Here is the question David asked when he was part of a panel, and Jeff Immelt was sitting in the front row:
"Jeff, how many fifty-million-dollar startups did GE launch last year? ... I bet the answer is zero ... And if that's true, I would be terrified if I were you. With ninety billion dollars in the bank and three hundred thousand employees, how does this not happen all the time?"
Instead of David Kidder becoming a persona non grata at future GE events, he was surprised when Jeff Immelt said at the end of their annual conference: "That was the most important question in the history of this leadership conference."
Suddenly, David realized that his idea of creating an entrepreneurial mindset within large companies had to be pursued as a business. Many large companies had to become good at New to Big (taking an idea from concept to growth business) rather than being just good at Big to Bigger (taking a growth business and scaling it).
He and some of his team members he worked with at the startup Clickable that David had co-founded decided to start Bionic. Bionic's mission was to help bring entrepreneurial mindset within larger companies using Growth OS (methodology they created from their startup experience, so the large companies are not only Big to Bigger machine, which they do well, but New to Big machine too. Becoming a New to Big is not something companies can and should outsource. They have to learn to develop that core competency if they want to thrive in the digital world in which we live. Bionic went on to work with many companies, including Microsoft, P&G, Citigroup, Nike, Exelon, etc.
The idea of starting Bionic would not have happened if David did not have the guts to ask that bold question in a high-stakes environment at GE's leadership conference. Sometimes the risky thing to do is to ask a question that many people are thinking about but not asking. If you want to have an entrepreneurial mindset, ask a provocative question as David Kidder did, and you can change the world for good.
Jay Oza is an author, speaker, executive coach. He makes people thrive on high stakes stage whether it's for a job interview, a sales presentation or a high-stakes speech. He is the author of a practical book Winning Speech Moments: How to Achieve Your Objective with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. You can get this book on Amazon for $9.99 for a limited time. Please download the free speech checklist that you can use to help you create a winning speech for any situation.
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