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The Power of Why: Simple Questions That Lead to Success
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The Power of Why: Simple Questions That Lead to Success

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  323 ratings  ·  50 reviews
The urge to question is natural for small children—just ask any parent. But few of us are aware that it is also one of the most vital tools for success. In The Power of Why, Amanda Lang shows how curiosity and the ability to ask the right questions fuels innovation and can drive change not just in business but also in our personal lives.

Weaving together the latest research...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Collins
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Ever just had to know? Does your child end every conversation with “why?” The Power of Why by CBC correspondent Amanda Lang explores the connections between curiosity and innovation. From shrimp farmers to Canadian Tire, Lang explains how curiosity-driven enterprises find success. Lang opens with a gripping story of an inventor who couldn’t resist testing his invention before she embarks on a whirlwind tour of contemporary innovators, including some great Canadian success stories like Lululemon...more
Vikki VanSickle
I saw Amanda Lang speak and was immediately charmed by her. I am so pleased that her book is just as inviting as Lang is as a person. The book has a conversational, friendly tone and is full of interesting anecdotes about innovation in business that Lang then applies to everyday life. I don't read a ton of business books, and while business types will enjoy this book, THE POWER OF WHY fits more in the Malcolm Gladwell niche of narrative non-fiction with mass appeal. I found myself jotting down n...more
Andraena Tilgner
Someone should hit me over the head with this one when I get too goal focused. A nice reminder, not just for business, to slow down and look around a bit. I find the style a bit preachy but the subject matter is great and that more than compensates.
Chantal Boudreau
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book because Ms. Lang was a keynote speaker at this year’s CMA conference in Nova Scotia. The book discusses the importance of innovative thinking, which includes trying to recapture the type of curiosity we had as a young child before the industrial-era-developed school systems we still have place in our innovation-era world killed that curiosity. It touches on the need for divergent thought, the ability to explore many answers rather than just f...more
Madelle Morgan
This is an accessible book that describes how several companies successfully incorporated innovation into their corporate cultures, and describes what happened to those that were complacent. The author names names.

The key takeaway for me was Amanda Lang's proposition that creative thinking is suppressed from a young age due to the focus on grades in our schools and universities. Those kids grow up to be compliant employees who are reluctant to take the risk of "being wrong", question rigid corpo...more
This book is about curiosity and creativity. 15 pages in, I was already wondering how curiosity is measured, and I came up with a program idea for a conference I'm helping to organize in the fall. Lang's training as a journalist shows itself in her crisp writing style. The book moves along at a good pace, and she keeps it human by injecting personal stories to illustrate points. An excellent read.
I don't have television, so I don't know Amanda Lang and I didn't realize this book came from a Canadian writer. That was a nice surprise because I know many of the companies that Lang describes in "The Power of Why". An interesting book that is meant to make us curious again, like when we were children. It's about creativity, innovation, questioning what seems to be normal. Lang collected many examples of people and companies that did look further and differently. Is it very different than othe...more
Lisa Marie
When do we lose that sense of curiosity and wonder that we had when we were children? You know, that constant questioning of "why?" and the ability to fail without fear?

Amanda Lang explains, "Curiousity declines from one grade to the next ... The reason is that, by and large, the education system (aided and abetted by many parents and governments) doesn't celebrate, much less tap into, children's hunger to explore, inquire and discover. The system simply isn't set up to do that. School were des...more
Kathleen O'Grady
Amanda Lang's first book is much like her CBC journalism performance: solid, intelligent, interesting and worth the time and effort. I learned many new things and enjoyed reading each chapter. The writing was seamless and there was a nice balance between Canadian and US-content, personal anecdotes and science and business facts.

I'd like to say it makes the perfect airplane book, but that sounds patronizing and condescending -- but it would be a great companion on a short flight. It does not requ...more
As children, we were all curious and full of questions. The favourite word for a five year old is usually "why?" Not because they are trying to be difficult, but because they really want to know. Over the years spent in the educational system children are discouraged from being disruptive, the fear of failure grows and children are less inclined/discouraged to ask questions. Amanda Lang's theory of The Power of Why encourages that childlike wonderment, the curiosity, the lack of fear of failure,...more
This book is very reminiscent of Malcom Gladwell's books, as is also obviously mirrored in the cover image. Although not as statistic based as some of Gladwell's books, Lang provides us with some inspiring stories and examples of how creativity, curiosity and asking questions are important tools for innovation, and in life. As Peter Mansbridge states, "This is a lot more than a business book, it’s a life book. Just pick it up for ten minutes and you'll find yourself thinking in some exciting, ne...more
Kate Bruce
This book is incredible. Every story has a lesson or message that is inspiring. I took my time reading this book chapter by chapter and story by story to get the most out of it possible and I still plan on keeping at my desk for moments when I need inspiration!
This book had more business management applications in it than I feel it had personal life applications, but nevertheless this is a great supremely interesting read.

Discussions of curiosity, whether in life or in business, can sometimes be a bit dry and come across as too dogmatic. Yet here Lang's discussions of company's that have taken steps to be creative in work, in creating warm and inviting business atmospheres, and really just being company's (or independent thinkers) that value thinking...more
A good summary and well written. If you find your creativity is flagging read this. I especially liked the section on brainstorming. Gave me new ideas to try.
David Sky
There is a lot to enjoy about this book - it was well written, researched, and put together. I enjoyed Amanda Lang’s personality and ‘voice’ appearing throughout the book. Much of the content is fascinating and far reaching - the importance of questions in the context of education, innovation, dealing with change, etc.. at work, and in our personal lives.The ideas were reasonably well supported with integrated case-studies and examples; primarily from the business world.

There were times when I...more
Mixed feelings about this book. It started well by investigating the reasons why the natural curiosity of children diminishes as they grow older. Ms Lang primarily blames our education system, which concentrates on memorization rather than open thinking. She then details the motivation and success of some modern inventors and CEOs that learned to think outside the box. I do take exception with her conclusion that we must totally revamp the education system in order to cultivate creativity. Perha...more
3.5 stars. I’ll admit that I didn’t have very high expectations when I picked up this book. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Lang is a great writer and kept me invested in what could have been a very dry topic by loading her book with lots of relevant and interesting professional and personal examples of innovation. A great read chock full of insights that can be applied to both work and personal life.
Catie Sahadath
I was apprehensive about reading this book because, well, I'm not a business person. However, I do love Amanda Lang, so I picked it up. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

The writing style makes this book accessible for all walks of folks. Lang makes her points using colloquial language, and illustrates them with anecdotes. It is also not preachy, and does not offer advice per se, so as a reader I never felt talked down to.
If this was one of the first business/leadership/motivational books I had read, it would have blown my mind. I've read dozens upon dozens of these types of books, so I recognize many of the stories she tells (Time Warner AOL merger, Four Seasons). I did enjoy a section about collaboration and how a clear objective keeps everyone (mostly) in sync, and that Canadians are generally too polite in this type of process.
A very interesting business book that everyone should really. Lots of prime examples of why we need to question the world we are in and the business choices we are making. Really loved the relevant examples presented in each chapter that really drove the point home of the chapter. The examples were also written in such a way that they were intertwined throughout the chapter.
Eric Brooke
A good book about curiosity.

Has enough facts and studies to make its point but is not limited by them and explores the frontiers.

I like the comments about Canadian versus America culture and its impact on conflict resolution and innovation.

This book should by read by all but particularly those in charge of organizations and those that support organizations.
The writing's not that great - a group of stories about people and innovations in a business context.
Dannie C
It's a pleasant and enlightening reading.
Rather than being a book on business success, it's more a book about happiness and success in life. Problems probed, such as the current education system, the fact that many are rushing for solution without further digging, etc, really get me engaged in thinking.
It's a reading worth recommending and sharing.
Vivian Choi
They were right when they said this book was a great read. Although it does not have "page-turning" qualities, it had some great insights on creativity, innovation and asking questions.

Amanda Lang interviewed many people for this book and it's great to have those concrete examples to support the cause for creativity and the power of asking why.
Michelle Szarka
AMAZING book. Got me thinking about so much in the world. Especially as an educator, this book was really powerful. It got me questioning my own ideas, the way I think, and also the way I deliver instruction to my students. I think EVERYONE should read this! it also got me started watching the Lang and O Leary exchange. Amanda Lang is amazing!
It was an incredibly informative book. As a Canadian I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to advance in any areas of their life whether it be personal or business. This book does reflect mainly on innovative businesses but the underlying concepts can be used by anyone.
Amanda Lang has hit the nail on the head. I kept making notes on the pages that I wanted to go back to; a primer on what we need to do to become more innovative in our thinking, from rethinking how our schools train our children to taking personal steps to increase our innovative powers.
Very inspiring! It will have you thinking about what you can do better, or how you can be better in your own life. You don't have to be running a business to benefit from this book. Amanda Lang is one smart cookie. There were many parts of it that I had to read out loud to my husband.
Introduced lots of useful steps to self-improvement. Describes stories of success and failure and explains the sequence of events in ways people can learn to implement into their own lives. Everyone could benefit from reading this book.
This was very enjoyable. One of the most interesting aspects of this book was Lang relating her lessons to personal life. I wasn't expecting that and it was a nice surprise that made the book much more engaging and relatable.
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“Instead of going back and looking at the question, people tinker with the solution, trying to make it fit."-Claude Legrande..."The consequences of failing to do that [in our personal lives] are the same as those facing businesses - even more dire, perhaps, because what's being squandered isn't just the potential for profits. It's the potential for happiness. We miss opportunities to innovate and to make positive changes in our lives when we aren't willing to question ourselves.” 1 likes
“His (Claude Legrand's) method is founded in a simple directive: Don't conclude that the problem as it's first presented, or as you first perceive it, is indeed the actual problem. If you do, and you've got it wrong, the solution you produce may also be wrong. The first step to figuring out what your problem is, Legrand says, is to deconstruct it by questioning it.” 0 likes
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