On a day to day basis, what’s your biggest frustration? What does your target audience care about? What is the annual value of a customer for your organization? These are just some of the questions from our Discovery Survey. Both at the beginning of a new project, and throughout our relationship with clients, we ask a lot of questions.
I wish I could remember where I picked up this quote so I could give proper credit, but here it is: “Keep asking questions until money or bullshit falls out.”
The underlying truth that I hear in that quote is that we often think we know the answer to a problem, but the quick, easy quip – or even the well-established status quo – isn’t always the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Critical thinking is one of the key elements that make us different. In order to deeply understand each of our clients’ businesses, we need more than the polished public-consumption answer to most questions. We need the uncomfortable, nitty-gritty, its-hard-to-even-say-out-loud answers. That’s where the good stuff is. If the questions we’re asking make you uncomfortable – we’re not begin mean, we’re doing it right!
Whenever we find ourselves stuck – whether it be with a problem that just seems to have no solution, or we’re left lacking creative inspiration – I push the team to challenge our assumptions. It is often the “truths” we take for granted that keep us blind to innovation. Breaking convention doesn’t always come in the form of a big complicated new approach.
I had a boss that called his suggestions “The Dumb Guy Approach”. When my team and I were stuck on a tech problem, we’d bring it to Kevin (who had effectively NO technical/coding knowledge) and ask for his suggestions. While he didn’t know function from a stylesheet, he often cracked the log jam because he wasn’t limited by the same assumptions we had made.
The bottom line is, when you ever find yourself stuck: stay inquisitive, challenge your assumptions, and change your point of observation to see the problem from a different angle.