There is one question that can be asked over and over again and yet, it never gets old. It’s simple, short, efficient…but what is it?
I hope you’re not disappointed 🙂
It’s actually a very important question, and yet, usually, it’s not asked, therefore, it’s not answered. Here I will focus around productivity and the context of project management but keep in mind that this question can apply to every situation of your life.
Why to ask it
By asking the question, you are forced to answer it. By doing so, you make sure that what you are about to do has meaning, has a purpose, has a goal, etc. It makes sure you are on the right path.
Ignore it, and you will have a hard time reaching your goals, or your project’s goals.
When to ask it
When a suggestion is given, or a decision is being considered, the question “why?” should be asked. Often people will suggest ideas, and will even be very persuasive when suggesting it, and yet, when you ask them “why should we do this?”, you will receive poor quality answers like: Isn’t it obvious?, because it’s cool, everybody does it, I think people will like it”.
Another situation is that a team will make a decision, but then you ask the famous question…. and everyone mutters words here and there, but nobody knows why it should be done, they were just happy to do it, but they find out it would not help the project at all.
What the answer should show you
The answer for the question “Why?” should confirm if the idea, the decision, or anything else serves it’s purpose. Remember that time is money, and in your project’s budget, I’m certain you did not include a budget for “doing things with no reason”. It gives meaning and value to what is being said.
It may also show that even though it’s a good idea, it’s not coherent with the project’s goals, therefore, you should find something else. For example, you may find out by asking “why should we add a contest on our website?” that it will drive new traffic to the website, but if the goal of the new promotion is to get users to stay longer on the website, then the idea is not the right one. If you do not ask “Why?”, you may skip that valuable thinking, do your contest, and find out that the users still leave your website within 30 seconds. Generally, it’s after that failed attempt that people ask “Why didn’t it work?”. Instead of wasting time and money by asking the question after, ask “Why should we do it?” before!
Simple: ask the question often, it’s important, reveals a lot, and also, it’s free!