The Creative Power of 20 Questions

July 1, 2024


Remember the childhood game of 20 questions?

I was thinking about it as I was getting bored on a long flight and it turns out, this playful activity is more than just a way to pass the time on a road trip (or annoy your parents from the back seat). It can be a powerhouse tool for creativity and innovation.

Curiosity, sparked by asking the right questions, can unlock incredible solutions and new opportunities.

馃敼 Start with Questions: Before your next brainstorm, play 20 questions about the problem at hand.
馃敼 Transformative Queries: Focus on “Why?”, “What if?”, and “Why not?” to uncover hidden insights.
馃敼 Tap into Curiosity: The more curious you are, the more creative you become.

Check out this week鈥檚 video for more depth on how and why this works.

Beware of GroupThink.

We all love agreement鈥攊t鈥檚 a warm, cozy feeling when everyone is on the same page. However, too much alignment can kill creativity.

In an effort to appease, we may try to accept every opinion.聽 We try to please everyone, but in the end, we end up pleasing nobody by launching bland products and services instead of bold ones. Customers want a rad new pair of kicks, not some boring generic function-only footwear.聽 Fans line up for bands who break the mold, not musicians who try to placate every critic.

In our well-intentioned efforts to protect risk, we often dilute the potency of new ideas and, in turn, make new launches far more risky. The best inventors, marketers, business leaders, and artists protect the integrity of their ideas to ensure that groupthink never dissipates their power.

Suggestions are lovely, but not every single one needs to be followed.

Fighting cancer with AI.

AI Doctor

Cancer screening and treatment can be a daunting task, often bogged down by administrative hurdles and delays that can impact patient outcomes. Enter Color Health, a company that has teamed up with OpenAI to revolutionize the way we approach cancer care.

Color Health has developed an AI assistant using OpenAI’s GPT-4 model. This “copilot” helps doctors create personalized cancer screening and pretreatment plans by analyzing patient data such as personal risk factors and family history. This tool not only saves time but also ensures that no critical diagnostic tests are missed.

The innovative use of AI in this context allows for faster and more efficient treatment of cancer patients. The copilot’s ability to analyze patient records quickly鈥攐n average in five minutes鈥攅nsures that patients receive timely diagnoses and treatments, ultimately improving survival rates.

Work that creativity muscle.

Colorful Brain

Just like physical muscles, creativity can be developed and strengthened. We all have the potential to grow our creative capacity, much like building your body at the gym. While you might not be trying to become the next Mozart or DaVinci, you can still significantly enhance your creativity to help make you better at pretty much everything you do.

Similar to our other muscles, regular exercise prompts growth, while inactivity causes atrophy. Building on the 20-question exercise above, here鈥檚 another powerful workout to build creativity muscle mass: Curiosity Thursdays.聽

  • After hump day and approaching the weekend, try making Thursdays a full day of curiosity.聽
  • Without changing your schedule, try emphasizing your curiosity throughout your normal routine.聽
  • Ask more questions in meetings, challenge conventional approaches, and try to shift your emphasis from performing to learning.聽
  • See if you can ask questions to get people in your life to open up more. Question the approaches of competitors, seeking to understand the thinking that led to their strategies.聽

Pilot Curiosity Thursdays for four weeks, and you will surely notice a creativity uptick. Just like any other muscle in your body, work it to build it.

To your creative success鈥


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About Josh

Josh Linkner is a聽New York Times聽bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, venture capital investor, professional jazz guitarist, and a globally recognized innovation expert. To learn more or to explore a collaboration, visit聽