Asking The Right Questions

Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some really incredibly smart people. One common thing I’ve noticed across all of these awesomely smart folks is how they ask questions. They ask good questions — insightful questions that expose the bigger issues and get you closer to a solution. You could say they ask the right questions. It makes all the difference.

Realizing this has made me try to be more aware of the questions I’m asking, both out loud and in my head, while working on a project.

I’ve realized that 99% of the time that I get stuck on a design decision it’s because I’m not asking the right question. During a design review this morning I realized I was stuck on “How do I deal with this particular constraint?” When I really should have been asking: “Why is this particular constraint there?”.

I know that’s extremely vague, but the trick was to take a step back and ask a question with a broader scope. I’d painted myself into a corner for no real reason at all and didn’t even realize it.

It’s amazing how just changing the question and re-framing the problem makes a solution so amazingly obvious.

If you’re stuck on something, take a step back and rephrase the question. It’s easier said than done when you’re racing toward a deadline, but it will get you to a solution and you’ll feel smarter for it.