One year back in high school, my math teacher called my parents to discuss my disruptive behavior. According to Joe-Math-Teacher, I asked too many questions when trying to understand new lessons. Fortunately, my Mom defended my inquisitive nature; rather than discourage me from asking questions in class, she signed me up for a summer journalism course at a nearby college!
Although my math career was stifled and journalism wasn’t quite the right fit, my knack for asking questions has been a fundamental element in propelling my TechComm career.
Technical Writing is often a problem-solving process:
- Who needs information or what does the user already know?
- Where is the user along their journey or when will they need this information?
- Why does the user encounter this question or issue?
The delight when I discover a miscommunicated detail or unexpected dependency is like a treasure hunt, and asking the right question to the right person is the only way to get the next clue!
Practice Makes Progress
Beyond information gathering, the practice of asking the right questions is crucial for professional development, process improvement, and deliverable optimization.
- Find Opportunity – Seeking to be helpful is a driving force behind many of my career advancements. What’s needed that I can do or learn to do?
- Uncover Assumptions – Journey mapping and process reengineering specifically require you to consider assumptions. Is there another way to accomplish the goal? What is a different benchmark we could strive for?
- Prioritize Requirements – Determining the minimal viable product (MVP) for faster delivery or understanding success factors are essential to keep a project focused on outcomes. What are the objectives and key results needed?
What have you asked lately that’s led to positive results or progress?