Warren Berger

Innovation Expert and Best-Selling Author of A More Beautiful Question
Warren Berger
  • Appeared on NBC’s Today Show, ABC World News, and CNN
  • Former contributor to Adweek, Advertising Today and Advertising Age
  • Teaches audiences to ask ambitious, game-changing questions
  • Emphasizes baking questions into your “organizational DNA”

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Innovation expert, best-selling author, and business journalist Warren Berger shows how innovators and dynamic companies can harness the power of questioning to spark fresh thinking and breakthrough ideas. An expert on design thinking and innovation, he has studied hundreds of the world’s leading innovators, red-hot start-ups, designers, and creative thinkers to analyze how they ask game-changing questions, solve problems, and create new possibilities. What he found was that the most creative, successful people tend to be expert questioners—raising questions no one else is asking and finding the answers everyone else is seeking.

Berger believes that questioning leads to innovation, can help you be more successful in your career, and can spark change in our businesses and lives. He goes inside businesses like Google, Netflix, IDEO, and Airbnb to show how questioning is baked into their organizational DNA and shares inspiring stories of artists, teachers, entrepreneurs, basement tinkerers, and social activists who changed their lives and the world around them—by starting with a “beautiful question.”

Best-Selling Author. Warren Berger is a longtime journalist of the New York Times, Wired, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, GQ, and Reader’s Digest, and the best-selling author of six books, including his latest, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas.

Berger is also the author of international best-seller Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Business and Your Life (2009, retitled CAD Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies, and T-Shaped People: Inside the World of Design Thinking and How It Can Spark Creativity in the U.S. paperback). BusinessWeek named it one of the “Best Innovation & Design Books of the Year.” His other books include The Purples (2010), which was an Amazon breakthrough novel semifinalist; Hoopla (2006); No Opportunity Wasted: Creating a Life List (2006); and Advertising Today (2001).

Expansive Expertise. Berger has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, ABC World News, CNN, and as an expert on NPR’s All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. He has also written for Culture Now, Adweek, Communication Arts, Business 2.0, Advertising Today, Advertising Age, and Graphis magazine. As a speaker, he has keynoted at the CUSP Conference, the Fuse Conference, Cox Media Group’s annual conference, the Design Thinkers Conference, the International Women’s Forum in Rome, and TEDx Portland. He has also spoken at in-house conferences hosted by General Electric,  MassMutual, and Microsoft, among others.

Berger serves as an adjunct professor and host of the “Innovators” lecture program at the University of Colorado, and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Virginia, the University of Oregon, University of Texas, Syracuse University, New York’s School of Visual Arts, and Virginia Commonwealth University, where he gave the 2011 commencement address for graduating business students. In 2010 he co-founded The Marmaduke Writing Factory, a writers’ group that was named “2011 Best Writers Group” by Westchester Magazine. He is also the founding editor of ONE, a quarterly magazine on advertising and design.

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Speaker Video

Warren Berger: Ask A More Beautiful Question

Cusp Conference 2013

TED Talk: The Catalyst's Dance

How ‘Beautiful Questions’ Lead to Game-Changing Innovation. In this presentation, Warren shares inspiring stories that reveal how some of today’s hottest startups and biggest product breakthroughs began with people asking bold, powerful, ‘beautiful’ questions. What can the rest of us learn from these surprising stories? Warren shares critical insights and lessons from these examples, and distills it all down to a set of practical tips and takeaways on the art of innovative questioning. This talk will provide the tools to enable any business leader, manager or entrepreneur to formulate the kinds of questions that can spark ideas, identify new opportunities, or help improve existing methods and processes.

Among the Points Covered:

  • The “Why/What if/How” cycle of innovative questioning
  • How to ‘step back’ and see your company/customers/industry with a fresh eye—so that you can question your own assumptions and habitual ways
  • How to know if you’re asking the “right” questions that can lead to better results
  • How to improve your questions and make them more actionable
  • How to engage in “collaborative inquiry,” so that teams (or the entire organization) can work together to ask beautiful questions that lead to breakthrough answers.

“Leading with Questions:” How True Leaders Inquire as a Means to Inspire. What do today’s most creative, successful business leaders have in common? According to research shared in this presentation, today’s top leaders are invariably great questioners. By asking the right questions, they are able to help their organizations anticipate change and move in new directions. But it isn’t easy for leaders to embrace questioning (traditionally, leaders have been expected to “have the answers”). In this presentation, geared specifically to those in leadership or mid-to-senior management roles, Warren talks about the evolution of the new “questioning leader” in these times of greater complexity and uncertainty. He shows how great leaders are able to find the best questions to ask—and how they can inspire those around them to question more and better.

Among the Points Covered:

  • The three most important questions any leader can ask
  • The four questions a great leader should never ask
  • How a questioning leader can get even better at questioning via techniques of “appreciative inquiry”
  • Why people are actually more likely to follow a leader who questions
  • How a leader can inspire and foster a “culture of inquiry”—so that everyone else in the organization is

Questioning as an Engine of Transformation. Is your organization on the cusp of a major transformation? Are you implementing a new initiative or trying to bring about organizational change—perhaps in response to sweeping changes in your industry? In this talk, Warren shows how an organization can help its people at all levels to become more agile and adaptable by arming them with better questioning skills and by encouraging a more open, curious mindset. Questioning is a fundamental tool for confronting change and engaging in continuous improvement—both on an organizational and an individual level. This talk can be adapted for specific transformation programs (such as Lean Management initiatives) or for more general situations in which an organization is trying to respond to profound new challenges. It can also be geared to leaders/managers—or presented as a rallying cry to the overall organization.

Among the Points Covered:

  • Why transformation efforts must begin with fundamental questions
  • Why it’s so important for companies-in-transition to be able to tap into the “collective curiosity” of all their people
  • Why people are more likely to “buy into” change if you can engage their natural curiosity and their (often latent) desire to engage, explore, and question
  • How questioning can be used to rethink and reinvent existing processes
  • Why self-questioning skills can help individuals and teams to operate more autonomously within a larger system
  • How “collaborative inquiry” can help teams (or the entire organization) work together to ask beautiful questions that lead to breakthrough answers.

Why Aren’t We Nurturing Kids’ Natural Ability to Question—and What Can Parents and Schools Do About That? Children are natural questioners, asking hundreds of questions a day between the ages of two and five. But then kids go to school and questioning falls off a cliff, displaced by rote memorization and standardized tests. As Warren shows in this presentation, we are doing a great disservice to our young people if we allow their “questioning muscles” to atrophy—because questioning is key to learning, and people who are comfortable raising and tackling difficult questions are more likely to flourish in the innovation-driven world of tomorrow.

In this talk, Warren shares practical ideas and strategies for encouraging more questioning in today’s classrooms, including insights and tips from The Right Question Institute (a renowned nonprofit education reform group that has pioneered new question-teaching methods). This presentation includes fun question-formulation exercises, and is ideal for audiences of teachers, parents, students, education conferences, school district summits, university events, or any gathering where there is a strong interest in learning, curiosity, and the future of education.

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