February 28, 2022

Dr. Garret Westlake, master of innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University’s da Vinci Center, reminds us that “the right question” can be more important than the right answer.

He likes the question, “How might we…………?,” to open possibilities.

Early in the pandemic when PPE was so scarce for hospitals, VCU Health asked for innovative input. The solution became decontaminating used masks with UV light, resulting in the return of 90,000 masks to the hospital for additional use. Westlake acknowledges this was not a long-term solution; it was a highly-effective solution in the moment of greatest need.

Imagine how a limiting question like, “How can we produce more masks?” might have blocked this solution.

How might we ask more questions with fewer limitations in them?

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