Title: Asking Smarter Questions: How to Be an Agent of Insight
Author: Sam Knowles
In Asking Smarter Questions: How to Be an Agent of Insight, organizations, innovators, and big-thinkers alike can expect to expand their perspective on this simple, but rarely easy, tactic to develop ideas and create solutions: asking questions.
In the third installment in the Using Data Better series, Knowles hones in on the various skills and strategies needed to not only ask smarter questions, but to do so through a data-focused lens. Rest assured, Asking Smart Questions and its two companions can be read in any order. This is no how-to book—readers can expect to receive lots of research and insight from a diverse list of sources. The flexibility in the material allows readers to digest and apply the contents in a way that works for them.
Readers who can glean the most value from Asking Smarter Questions include business professionals, leaders, and organizers across industries and roles who want to collect data to make a unique impact, no matter what that means to them. The language is technical and the research is thorough and deeply explored, so the book may not be easily readable or accessible to all audiences. Those who are excited by the research and analytical discussion will be thrilled with the lengths Knowles goes to flesh out and expand on each concept.
The book includes various mediums, such as the author’s personal anecdotes, interviews, and citations from historical and research texts. Knowles expertly ties in each resource so that each chapter naturally builds upon the last. However, with so many different voices and opinions, the book can get a bit lengthy and meandering at times.
Knowles includes fourteen interviews with professionals and experts across industries. These interviews have the most valuable lessons in the book. Each interviewee explains what they believe makes a “good” or “bad” question. They help put concepts into context, and there’s a frankness and honesty to their answers that clearly come from a place of experience. It also adds a unique mentorship element to the book because it covers people who are actually in impactful roles across industries.
The chapters also include extensive abstracts and notes that set the chapter up and provide extra resources or context for the reader. Specifically with the notes sections, there are so many fascinating tidbits to work with, so those who are interested with the nitty-gritty details of the research will have a field day diving into the plethora of resources.
One of the most interesting sections is a very timely section that addresses the complexity of creating discourse in an era of “fake news,” information overdose, social media, and the growing culture of squandering debate.
Knowles showcases the breadth of his research and expertise as a data storyteller in the final book of the Using Data Better trilogy. Polished, rich with research, and laser-focused, Asking Smarter Questions will provoke deep-thought and critical analysis in readers from all professions and industries. In the age of technology, when information is accessible to all, Asking Smarter Questions explores how businesses, organizations, and individual leaders can use questions as a resource to create industry-changing impact.
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