Asking the Right Question

The ability to understand the reality of a situation is based upon asking questions to gain an understanding of a situation.  So what happens when we ask the wrong questions.  We get the wrong answers.

In the complex world of acronyms, technology and business there is so much hard-wired understanding of the various points of view that what you may ask may have a completely different meaning to the inquiree than it did to what you meant.

So for example today in a discussion, someone started talking about changes in the database.  As I tried to get to the bottom of this thinking that they were changing the data model, it became clear that the nature of my questions were not correct, so I could not get clarity on my situation.

  1. Jim Reply

    If you let people to use short forms that you do not understand, the confusion really compounds itself.
    I recall a sales technique I observed used by a very large computer vendor. They would say something like “Of course you know about the way the System 22-64 improves the response time of the 48/62.” If you have no idea what he is talking about but nod, he has you. You will now disappear down the black hole of techogab. After that initial event, you need a lot of courage to admit your ignorance.
    Another example is meeting somebody you know but cannot remember their name. If immediately you say “I am sorry I do not remember name” you avoid the black hole. After that you have increasing difficulty asking their name.
    Admitting ignorance and confusion takes courage but pays off every time.

  2. michael Reply

    Multiple issues raised here that could be their own topics. Quality questions is one and the atrocious lexicon in IT is another. On the latter, I have often imagined an English Professor launching an IT career and eventually losing his mind trying to follow all of the confabulations of IT speak.

  3. Jim Reply

    I think in many of these situations it is perfectly normal to be confused. As I said with financial things, if something does not seem to fit, dig deeper and get to the bottom of it because it may be based on a incorrect premise.
    I remember a simulation I was doing once of the distribution of radioactivity after a hole in a uranium rod. My analysis showed a huge build up in radiation. Somebody questioned the results for reasonableness and I discovered the build up was due to round off errors in my calculations. It was good somebody gave it areasonableness check.
    If things do not seem to make sense, they likely do not. Getting people to clear up your confusion is very important.

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