Have you ever wondered what would happen if you gave a client exactly what they asked for? Here’s a little story to remind us all of the power of simply asking why.
Client: We want you to build us a website.
Problem solver: Why?
Client: We want to advertise and collect donations for a bridge we want to build, from here to there. Do you also want to help us build a bridge?
Problem solver: Why do you want to build a bridge?
Client: We need to get to the other side. From here, to over there.
Problem solver: Have you considered using a boat, ferry, plane, walking or driving around to the other side, para-gliding, or swimming? Why do you want to get to the other side?
Client: Oh, wow! We have not considered those things. We just need to send and receive messages with over there.
Problem solver: Have you tried mailing your message, I believe they get regular mail over there? Have you tried emailing it, sending smoke signals, calling on the telephone, a walky talky, radio, or Skype, shouting (it’s not that far), or anything else? Why do you need to get a message over there?
Client: We have not tried any of those things. We just got a bunch of people together and decided that was the best option because we’ve built bridges in the past and they’ve been a success. We need to get a message over there because our office needs to send files to that office and be received by someone, and they have spontaneous hours, so we need to be able check in with them to know when they are there.
Problem solver: I could help you to set up a system to know when they are in their office and to send and accept files appropriately, but why do you need to send files to that office?
Client: I’m not really sure, we don’t know what they use them for, we’ve just always done it and thought we would try and make it easier.
Problem solver: Making it easier is a great idea! I think I can help you and it will probably be much less expensive than building a bridge, much more efficient, and may help fix other processes in your organization as well.
Client: Yay! I may have to ask the same group that made the bridge decision, or my manager, for a decision on that though.
Problem solver: Oh well, at least we got that far.
Client: You’re amazing. Can you help us make our business cards too?!
Moral of the story: Now you know– the next time a client says “we need you to help us with X” to always ask why, unless you already know for absolute certain yourself what the answer is.