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Encourage a culture where they ask why

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Ikujiro Nonaka, whom The Wall Street Journal calls an influential business thinker, studies companies that appreciate employees as distinct individuals rather than interchangeable cogs. This advances honest, informal communication, including questions that can improve a company’s ability to solve problems.

Why is ultimately a question of purpose,” Nonaka says. “In most organizations, people are not encouraged to keep asking questions.”

Not asking why also slows projects and squashes innovation.

Consider questions in your workplace as a way to think about things differently and explore options, rather than as an annoyance that needs instant resolution. Your employees will feel recognized if their suggestions are taken seriously, and you may uncover some valuable ideas.

—Adapted from "The Practical Wisdom of Ikujiro Nonaka," Sally Helgesen, strategy+business

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