Are you asking the wrong questions?

9 June 2022 Martin Cheetham

Understanding what you want to know and then framing your questions correctly is paramount to getting the right answers. This is true of your spouse, your kids, your colleagues, your customers, your employees, your business. Framing is everything.

I often experience this when speaking to my kids. I ask something in a specific way, which I think is clear and unambiguous, only to get a response completely out of left field (I sometimes forget how creative kids can be). On review of my question, I realise that it definitely could’ve been misinterpreted. I reframe it and we all have an ‘aha!’ moment.

The same can be said of research. The planning and execution of questions need to be carefully considered. One result is that you’re pushing (even subconsciously) for a specific answer, leading to bias. Another is that you frame it incorrectly and get a response that isn’t even answering the question. Take data like this into ideation and you’re suddenly solving for the wrong thing.

Fall in love with the problem, not the solution

There’s a great quote from Albert Einstein (although who knows with our meme culture, whether it actually was him): “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

If we are able to question the very problem we are trying to solve, unpack it and disect it, then it may take us down a very different path. This way of thinking allows for true empathy and open questioning where real, unbiased data can be uncovered.

“There are no stupid questions, just stupid people” – Mr Garrison (South Park)

I’ve used this quote at Tenaka many times to start a session on a light note. It’s ridiculous and funny at first glance, but on analysis, there is actually an element of truth to that statement. There are no stupid questions, but they may be the wrong questions. And people who don’t ask questions won’t learn (because they either assume they already know the answer or they’re afraid they’ll be seen in a certain light). If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.

Ask the questions, and ask the right questions. You’ll be surprised what you learn. And how you grow. As an individual and as a business.