16 Jun Some Feedback is Better than None
The Art of Asking the Right Questions
Sometimes I feel like a broken record. In almost every lecture I deliver, I pepper it with a theme that wraps everything together. In a lot of occasions however, a second theme creeps into the picture – asking the right questions.
While this is the most important investigative technique when working on a project, it’s the “right” part that most people get wrong. I often hear, “How do I determine what’s right?”, or “How do I know what to ask as a follow-up?”, and even “Is there a list of questions somewhere Matt???”.
Knowing WHAT to ask takes time and experience, but recently I’ve been preaching that it’s better to ask SOMETHING than nothing as all. At least at that point you’ll get SOME feedback that will help you move the project along.
Why Feedback is So Important
Which brings me to the topic at hand. A little information is better than NONE. A 2% response rate is better than ZERO. One win and 99 losses is better than 100 losses.
You need to take action to make nothing be something, and at the beginning of the process you also might have to take some risks if you’re not completely sure of what you’re asking.
Here are a few tips to getting started:
- Know your client – study their subject matter, investigate their business and understand the project as much as you can. This will only help them have confidence in you.
- Make a list – write down what you need to find out, and have it in front of you when you meet with the client. And don’t get distracted or side tracked…cover everything you set out to do.
- Don’t solution – you’re here to discover, not solve problems. Try and stay away from coming up with a solution at this point. Focus on discovering requirements and/or issues.
- Be humble and gracious – have you heard the saying ‘you attract more bees with honey’? Admittedly you don’t know everything, and that’s why you’re asking questions in the first place! Make your subject feel comfortable by being okay with getting things wrong.
Ultimately, preparedness is always the most important thing. The more prepared you are, the more successful you’ll be.