The Power of Why by Amanda Lang

A Non-Fiction Pick by Jean-Louis


(Collins, 2012)

Amanda Lang is the host of CBC’s “Lang and O’Leary Exchange” alongside Kevin O’Leary of the “Dragon’s Den” fame. In this book she explores creativity, innovation, and how to regain a little of one’s childhood wonder in how to make the world a better place. While many of the chapters deal with the world of business and how successful organizations find ways to innovate, Lang is also interested in how we can become more creative and happier individuals. As she does so well in her TV role, Lang is able to infuse her book with genuine curiosity as she gentle nudges to get out of our mental ruts and find new paths to creativity.

Lang is not afraid to draw on her own life to make her subject more accessible. As a relatively young mother, she can look critically at her children (and their cohort) to marvel at the creativity and ingenuity of children. And then she goes on to ask questions about whether our education systems (schools and universities) do a good or bad job of nurturing innovative thinking. Spoiler alert–you know the answer–most of our schools do a poor job of encouraging divergent thinking. Lang explores reasons why this is and how we might change our institutions.

Another aspect of her life which makes it into the book is the fact that Lang has an identical twin. Amanda looks at ways that she is both like her sister Adrian and ways in which they differ. If it isn’t genetics, what has set them on different paths? For a person with many siblings, I find this line of inquiry quite interesting.

In preparing her book, Lang has interviewed and researched a number of successful innovators and theorists on innovation. The book has numerous chapters that take us into the worlds of shrimp farming, computers, cars, telecommunications, and to inventors who have created such products as a table saw which stops when it contacts human flesh and to the inventor of the curved shower rod. Each of her subjects is presented in an accessible fashion so this book is really meant for anyone–and anyone who picks it up will gain one or two good ideas on how to be personally more innovative and creative.


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