Rude Q and A: If you’ve never thought about it it’s time to start!

Reading the Scott Berkun blog, I met an interesting post, where it explains the technique of Rude Q&A that is the art to make unpleasant questions and answers. It is “a list of questions you don’t want to hear about whatever it is you’re working on“.

See some examples:

  • You were at Microsoft for years – Microsoft! – what makes you think you know anything about Innovation?. Since college I’ve been a student of innovation and invention history, and my experiences working on early versions of Internet Explorer (1-5), during the birth of the web as a mainstream phenomenon (1994-1998), gave me perspective on how new ideas, products and innovations actually happen. I worked with many of the first search engine and web companies and played a role in defining what web browsers would become.
  • There are dozens of books on innovation. Why should anyone care about yours?. The Myths of Innovation focuses on great stories – it uses stories to explore what we believe, separate truth from myth, and offer advice based on what innovators actually do. This approach is unusual as it’s very approachable, free of jargon and hype, and makes for an easy read that focuses on the questions that history supports as most essential.

Basically, this technique is to draw up the questions that you, in ameeting or would not want to listen and try to answer them in the mostconsistent and complete as possible. It is always important to be prepared to answer the more sensitive questions ans thus avoid  an embarrassing dead end.

Andy Johnston give us an excellent argument to make the Rude Q&A a routine pratice:

As we know, strategic planning and decision-making is tough but when personalities, politics and biases are involved it becomes even more complicated. It takes courage to confront conventional thinking. Someone has to ask those uncomfortable questions that people think about… but never have the guts to raise. Sometimes there is a strong temptation to be quiet, don’t challenge the process and just get it over with.

Okay, I’m going to ask the tough questions. As my grandmother said, “The only way to change is to do things differently.” If you want to stimulate some real, measurable, relevant change then be bold, step up, man up and ask. Every process needs to be challenged from time to time. Start kicking the scared cows with questions like these.

This exercise is also useful to analyze the quality of your project, work orsystem: If you can not find convincing answers to tough questions, something is going deeply wrong. Grab your favorite pen, a good paper notebook – I usually use a ruled Moleskine – and start today!


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