Nils Boeffel shares a post that identifies how to ask the right questions to get the information you need.
Many managers are confronted with complex decisions to make, and not enough time in which to make them. One way to help make better decisions more quickly is knowing how to ask questions that get to the core of the subject, and not just tiptoe around the edges.
Let’s look at an example. If you ask what your marketing budget is being spent on, and you get the answer “We’re spending X amount and have a market penetration of nearly 38%”, do you just have more facts to remember, or does that really help you make a decision and act on the information?
Odds are, it really doesn’t help you. It doesn’t help you understand if the money is well spent or not, and it surely doesn’t help you make any critical business decisions. So how do we ask the right questions, and how do we know when we’ve got a good and helpful answer?
A good question seeks to understand, and a good answer helps to decide.
How do you ask a good question?
Asking good questions gets you halfway to a good answer.
Don’t stop at fact-questions, ask knowledge questions: Consider the questions “What is our marketing budget” vs. “how well is our marketing budget being spent?” The first question will get you an answer, but the second will help you understand what the answer means and what is significant about it
Focus on the penetrating “why” and “how” questions instead of the simple fact-seeking “what”, “when” and “where” questions
Ask “why” five times: many people are afraid to dig deeper into an issue, and will only provide relevant information after some “digging”. You will be surprised where the answers lead when you keep digging.
Key points include:
- Ask knowledge questions
- How do you know you’ve got a good answer?
- Getting to the bottom of the real issues
Read the full article, How to Ask the Right Questions, on NilsBoeffel.com.
Barry Horwitz shares an article with a few key pointers on communication best practices that gain better results from research.
If you hope to develop an effective strategy, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the external forces that impact your organization. Much of this, of course, can be learned through the inevitable Google searches — finding news items in mainstream press, public reports from organizations, or trade journals.
But to really gain a clear perspective, you’ll want to speak with people who are (or were) working in the field. Frequently, the best insights come from folks who are not part of your internal team or even your customer base. Rather, they are industry players or experts who are familiar with the space in which you operate… or, sometimes, “adjacent” or even different spaces.
But how do you get their attention? And, once you do, how do you get them to share the information and insights you seek? For the most part, it comes down to effective interviewing.
Some suggestions for doing this well…
What’s in it for me?
You’ve no doubt heard the catchphrase, WIIFM: “What’s in it for me?” Well, when reaching out to people who will not benefit directly from your work and asking for their time (whether in person, phone, or video), you need to consider WIIFM and incorporate that into your request for a meeting.
Fortunately, many people are naturally inclined to be helpful — but that alone is not usually enough. One thing that can tip the balance is an offer to share a generalized summary of what you learn in your research. People are often interested in discovering how others in their field answer certain questions, so they benefit by participating.
Key points include:
- Drafting a discussion guide
- The benefit of honesty
- Respect as a tactic
Read the full article, Research through Interviewing, on Horwitzandco.com.
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Atul Kannan with Eagle Leaf Group. Atul was a consultant at Bain prior to starting his consulting firm, Eagle Leaf Group. He stared his career at ExxonMobil, where he held several roles, including in Engineering and as a section head. Atul focuses on diligence, research, and strategy for PE and corporate clients (particularly in Industrials and Technology).
Jason George explains with delightful simplicity how the formula used by Dr. Seuss to tell a story is a good example to follow for presentations. The distillation of the core idea to ensure comprehensive understanding that opens the door to deeper exploration.
Author Theodor Geisel was dealing with some tough constraints. The audience for his next book required an instantly captivating story with a clear narrative arc, but there was a catch: they could only process a limited set of words, ideally fewer than 300, most of which would have to be monosyllabic. This was understandable given his target was students in the first grade, who would be around six years old.
Geisel had written children’s books previously, but this was to be his first in a new publishing imprint aimed at the youngest readers. After wrestling with these limitations for almost a year, Geisel worked out a deceptively sophisticated tale that differed markedly from those of the simple reading primers used to increase literacy in 1950s America. It featured a whimsical cat whose unexpected encounter with two children generated amusingly outlandish antics, all told with unusual irreverence.
Read the full article, Simplicity rules – Short and sweet, on JasonGeorge.net.