Revolutionary Ideas Come from Ridiculous Questions

Question-based creativity can lead to some interesting results.

Every creative business idea begins with a question.

A question that grabs attention. A question that might sound ridiculous at the time. A question that propels a wrecking ball of through the walls of ordinary thinking. But still, a question that makes every person in the room stop what he’s doing, sit back in his chair, stare off into space and say, “Huh. Now that’s an interesting idea…”

QREATIVITY is creating something out of nothing by asking BIG questions.

This idea of question-based creativity has evolved through centuries of study from around the world. “One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever,” says the ancient Chinese proverb. In the same light, E.E. Cummings once said, “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.” And Voltaire is famous for his words, “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”

However, in the last few hundred years, other creative powerhouses like Einstein, Edison and De Bono went on to perfect question-based creativity with various techniques and experiments still used by businesspeople around the world.

But sometimes, businesspeople need to ask bigger questions. Questions that push an ideas to their very limits. Questions reminiscent to Kant’s Universalized Maxim which states “Act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature.”

In other words: what if everybody did it?

Here are some excellent examples of businesspeople – some of whom became businesspeople unexpectedly – because they asked universalized questions to spark their QREATIVITY.

What if I met everyone who shared my same name?
Dave Gorman was a stand up comic from London who decided to search the world for other people named Dave Gorman. While it began as a whim discussed over a pint in a pub, Dave’s adventures of searching for his “namesakes” led to books, television shows, DVD’s and a traveling concert tour across the world. Talk about an interesting career! Check out

What if I always said yes to everybody and everything?
Danny Wallace was a television producer who met an estranged old man on a bus who told him three words that changed his life: say yes more. So he did. In fact, he didn’t just say it more, he said it ALWAYS. To EVERYTHING. For 6 months! And it changed his entire perspective on life, helped him meet his future wife, and of course, inspired him to write a hilarious book called The Yes Man. Danny is now somewhat of a superhero around London. Check out (Interestingly enough, Danny Wallace was Dave Gorman’s old roommate. Guess the QREATIVITY acorn doesn’t fall far from tree!)

What if everybody wore their Lee jeans on the same day?
In 1995 somebody at Lee Jeans asked this question. 10 years later, Lee National Denim Day is the world’s largest single-day fundraiser for breast cancer. On one Friday in October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Lee Jeans encourages millions of people nationwide to slip into their favorite jeans and make a $5 donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Since 1996, Lee National Denim Day has raised more than $52 million for breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment programs. To learn more, check out

What if everybody in Seattle read the same book?
It’s doubtful that either Nancy Pearl, executive director of the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library (WCB), or Chris Higashi, associate director for WCB, realized just how influential an idea they had conceived when they launched “If All of Seattle Reads the Same Book” in 1996. Today, over 50 cities, counties, or states have begun programs that encourage communities to read the same book at the same time and then to discuss it in numerous venues. For more information, check out

What if everybody donated just one dollar to cancer?
You’ve seen those ubiquitous yellow bracelets on the wrist of your friends, family members, politicians, athletes, even rock stars and actors! And all those people did was donate one dollar to cancer through The Lance Armstrong Foundation. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist, Lance Armstrong, the LAF provides the practical information and tools people living with cancer need to live strong. Not to mention, their initial campaign was recorded as one of the most successful in history, raised millions of dollars for cancer awareness, and even started a wrist band fad that will probably go down as one of the most memorable trends of the new millennium. Go to

What if every customer was always greeted at the door?
Leave it to Sam Walton when it comes to QREATIVITY. Not only was he the pioneer of employee nametags, but he changed the entire customer service process by introducing a church-style icon to retail stores: greeters. You’ve no doubt had a conversation with one of these people – probably sometime in the last month! Greeters are the front-line “soldiers” of the company, and prove that people and customer service make the difference in building customer rapport.

What if I wore a nametag all day, every day – for the rest of my life?
This is single most important question I ever asked myself. It was November 2nd, 2000, and I was wearing a nametag for a seminar. And I thought, hmm…what if I just kept this thing on my shirt every day? I wonder what would happen…

Five years, two published books, 80+ articles, over 100 speeches and I-can’t-remember-how-many interviews later; I’m still wearing that darn nametag. Every single day. And I love it. So much so that I got it tattooed on my chest! And it’s the validation for my existence, the most fun I’ve ever had and, interestingly enough, how I make a living.


And so, I ask you: what BIG question could YOU ask today to spark your QREATIVITY?

© 2005 All Rights Reserved.

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