Hal Gregersen, PhD, is a senior lecturer in leadership and innovation at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, former executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, and a renowned expert on leadership, innovation and creative culture — dedicating his career to helping companies stay ahead in an accelerating world by teaching them how to implement a culture of inquiry and transform themselves into innovative powerhouses.
Gregersen created a repeatable three-step methodology, the Question Burst, by which companies can build better problem solvers and enhance creative impact at all levels. The crux of Gregersen’s argument is spelled out in his Nautilus award-winning book (based on 200+ interviews with catalytic questioners like Elon Musk and Orit Gadiesh),“Questions Are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life” (Harper Collins, 2018). While people are programmed to look for answers, the real catalyst for disruptive change is questioning. Gregersen argues that leaders can deliberately overhaul and transform cultures to habitually produce pioneering breakthroughs. His Question Burst method, along with other habits of productive inquiry, have helped redesign company cultures at Chanel, Daimler, Danone, Disney·Pixar, Fidelity, Genentech, Patagonia, Salesforce, and the World Economic Forum, among others.
Gregersen also co-authored, with Clay Christensen and Jeff Dyer, “The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2019), a guide to cultivating the discovery skills that CEOs and entrepreneurs rely on to build the most innovative companies in the world. Having interviewed 100+ ground-breaking leaders at the world’s most innovative companies, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, Gregersen draws on rigorous research (based on a database of +15,000 leaders) to successfully advise the world’s largest corporations on transformation challenges.
Ranked as one of the world’s 20 most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50 and winner of the 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award for leadership, Gregersen regularly delivers thought-provoking, interactive keynotes and workshops and transformational coaching experiences. Along with ten books, Gregersen is the author of over fifty articles, book chapters, and cases on leading innovation and change (with over 10,000 citations by other scholars). His research has been highlighted in media such as BBC, CNN, The Economist, Fast Company, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2020, Gregersen was named a Top 30 Global Guru.
Gregersen’s work at MIT culminates an academic journey that has included teaching at INSEAD, London Business School, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, and a Fulbright Fellowship in Finland. In addition to his academic career, Gregersen was an advisory board member at Pharmascience, a Montreal-based pharmaceutical company, and remains a senior fellow at Innosight. Gregersen has lived and worked outside the United States for over a decade in England, Finland, France, and the UAE. He and his wife now reside in Boston where he pursues his lifelong avocation, photography, and she her lifelong love, sculpture.
2020 has turned the world upside down in terms of what we do, where we do it, how we do it, and when we do it. We are being forced to give up habits that worked well in the past and navigate our way through entirely unknown and uncomfortable territory. We are struggling to figure out what’s next, meaning “What new skillset or mindset is worth mastering?” so we can make progress in times of extreme transition.
In this session, we will explore the power of transition curve leadership and the role of catalytic inquiry in moving forward. We will tap into a decade of research found in Questions are the Answer (HarperCollins, 2018), The Innovator’s DNA (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), and It Starts With One (FT Press, 2008) to help coaches: identify what’s next when clients face extreme uncertainty, learn how to help clients descend and ascend the toughest parts of a transition curve, explore how to acknowledge and manage the emotional arc of unexpected transitions (such as tolerating “not knowing” or rushing too fast into action mode), and harness the surprising power of catalytic inquiry to help clients get unstuck and summit new transition curves.
What if you could help clients unlock a better answer to their most vexing problems just by changing the question? Talk to the world’s most creative problem-solvers and they will often tell you that asking the right questions led them to their most valuable ideas and continues to fuel positive transformations. The world’s best coaches paint a similar picture about their everyday work. Indeed, great questions have a catalytic quality — they dissolve barriers to thinking and channel energy down more productive pathways. Asking such questions is essential when digitization and disruption push clients to the edge of uncertainty, forcing them to figure out what they don’t know they don’t know – before it’s too late.
In this session, we will draw on several hundred research interviews for Questions Are the Answer (HarperCollins, 2018) to deliver unique insight into how extraordinary coaches can foster the right conditions where clients ask and answer fearless, game-changing questions. This highly interactive session will help you learn conceptual frameworks, practice behavioral habits, and cultivate an inquiry-driven approach where curiosity and “creative friction” fuel productive client change. Come ready to make progress on a real challenge that you face as a coach and leave prepared to invite more catalytic questions into your coaching work.
1. Learn how to create and benefit from the conditions that stimulate catalytic questions for clients.
2. Explore the habits and questioning methods that promote productive inquiry.
3. Examine how to apply a question-based approach to challenges in your personal and professional life.
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