July 6, 2010

Ask “so what?”

You embarked in a problem solving process, that requires fact gathering, analysis and communication. You might not know how long it’s going to take you and how much effort will be associated but be sure of one thing: it will be messy. Asking “so what?” consistently can help you limit the messiness…

Asking “so what?” helps you focus your thinking

At many stages of the problem solving process you’ll have to gather data. Consistently asking “so what?” helps you decide which data is relevant.

For instance, it helps you decide if one bit of information should be in the selected few on your problem identification card. And if it doesn’t belong there, the reflective process of asking yourself “so what?” will probably lead you to identify another bit of information that should be there.

Aslo, it we help you decide between potential structures for your issue tree.

Asking “so what?” helps you convey the right message

Have you ever realized in mid-sentence that under the disguise of one argument you were really saying something else? There again, simply asking “so what?” (preferably before you start speaking) is a powerful way to ensure that you’re only bringing the right elements to the conversation. Oh, and if you think that your audience won’t see through your smoke screen argument, you probably aren’t giving them enough credit. Make no mistake: if you don’t ask yourself “so what?”, they will.