“Why?” As A Competitive Advantage

What does it take to bring a new idea into the world?

It’s not just about what you know. It’s also about challenging convention with a single word: “Why?”

“Why are things done this way?”

“Why do you think that?”

“Why can’t we…?”


For many of us, our educations were directed towards the acquisition of expertise. Not knowing an answer was a bad thing. You’d raise your hand when you knew the answer; you’d slump down in your chair if you didn’t.

But today (and really, throughout history) real advances come when people ask “Why?”

Why do only scientists, engineers, and mathematicians use data to make decisions?


Why aren’t patients playing an active role in their healthcare?


Why are taxis the only way to get around town?


Why do we rely on limited, environmentally harmful sources of energy?


Why does HR look for keywords before looking for people to hire?


Why don’t agencies and consultancies share exactly who is doing what and when with their clients?


“Smart” is an incredibly loaded term. It has, and will likely always be defined by what you know. But to get to that knowledge, you need understanding, and to understand, you need to start with a simple question: “Why?”

Sometimes the answers will make sense. Sometimes they won’t.

Sometimes you’ll understand why things are the way they are. Sometimes you’ll end up wondering why there couldn’t be another way.

Want to inspire a start-up? Ask “why?”

Want to shake up a mature industry? Ask “why?”

Want to find a better solution? Ask “why?”

Want to change the world? Ask “why?”