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The Power of Why: Simple Questions That Lead to Success

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  410 ratings  ·  62 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
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Collins
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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
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 Lululemo ...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
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 really enjoyed the chapter on diversity and innovation. Too often I find that we have difficulty coming up with ideas because we are all so similar and approach the challenge in the same way. Another compelling reason for diversity in the workplace. I also found the discussion of the status quo bias to be particularly relevant to both my professional and personal life. Fear of the unknown often holds us back. Since I am much more of a linear thinker, I found the book to contain great advice on ...more
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
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
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
Katie Martin
I read this for my business book club at work. I found that it wasn't filled with revolutionary information but it did force me to look at things from a different perspective. I liked that Amanda used household name companies as examples, which I found made the lessons a bit more interesting.

One of my favourite parts was when she described the exercise she did in university where her and her peers had to draw a candlestick - one image was upside down and the other was right side up - and how th
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
this is definitely a thinking book. there are a lot of interesting stories of innovators and creative thinkers and how we lose creative thinking as we grow up. most interesting... now if I could figure out how to make and market a better truly foldable fitted sheet I would really have something!
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
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
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
I enjoy Amanda Lang on her various news programs. I find her very personable, intelligent and a strong debater. However, I struggled to finish this book. On a positive note, I enjoyed the examples that she used to demonstrate the key learnings regarding innovation and being open to innovation. But after a few chapters, the content dried up. I think I could have stuck with 3 chapters and the conclusion. I will take away a few key salient points, but nothing too novel. I'll continue to seek out Ms ...more
Carol Sorensen
Nothing I hadn't read before, but the bibliography is more interesting.
Nick Leeson
Lang forces us to think about how we can make positive change, not only in and for our own lives, but also impacts on the world around us. By being inherently curious about the world around you and not shying away from asking 'why?' and embracing divergent thinking we just may find solutions to otherwise insoluble problems, big and small. I'll probably carry forward her message of trying to mentally press 'ctrl-alt-delete' or 'reboot' in order to approach both the unique and typical obstacles of ...more
A great read that is a reminder around the value of nurturing curiousity and innovation. Loved it!
Luella Lee
Very interesting read. Great anacdotal stories.
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.
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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
“You have to free your brain to roam to places that are a little impractical, and innovation consultants have come up with some great ways to encourage that. One of my favorites comes from Legrand, who tells people in group brainstorming sessions to try to come up with the WORST possible ideas that they can think of. ... Once you have a list of really, really bad suggestions - and coming up with them does force your brain to work in a different way - you try to flip them over into the positive.” 1 likes
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