(*information obtained from the book “A More Beautiful Question”)
If the word why has a penetrative power, enabling the questioner to get pass assumptions and dig deep into problems, the words what if have a more expansive effect; allowing us to think without limits or constraints, firing the imagination.
John Seely Brown mentioned, in order for imagination to flourish, there must be an opportunity to see things as other than they currently are or appear to be. That’s where the power of “What If” comes in to play. This question has the ability to introduce something strange and perhaps even demonstrably untrue into our current situation or perspective.
What If questions; often involves the ability to combine ideas and influences, to mix and remix things that might not ordinarily go together. This way of thinking has many names; Einstein and others referred to this as combinatorial thinking. Despite that, this mix-and-match mental process is at the root of creativity and innovation.