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Great Researchers Ask Great Questions

I am borrowing this title from John Maxwell’s book Good Leaders Ask Great Questions.  At the end of the day, our effectiveness as researchers, marketers, and even in life rests on the questions we ask.

We have our strategies, methods, and approaches?  But how do we know what we are doing is right?  How do we know the ladder we’re climbing is not up against the wrong building?  It all comes down to asking the right questions.

It all comes down to asking the right questions.

You can download our True North Project Scoping Question Checklist.  But first let’s talk about the rationale for this checklist.

It does not take much time in the market research profession until we recognize that many times clients come to us asking for focus groups or some other method.  When after a quick conversation we typically realize they need something entirely different.  Order takers will put the ladder up against the wrong building.  Those who ask questions will get their clients what they need.

Asking questions builds trust and confidence

Asking questions does more than capture information, it also builds trust and confidence. It demonstrates to the client that we are listening, that we understand that his or her situation is unique, and that we want to understand.

Two great reads, The Trusted Advisor, and Flawless Consulting, both spend several pages discussing the importance of asking the right questions.  Yes, to build understanding but also to build trust and confidence.

Even if we think we know the answers to our questions, ask anyway!

The book, The Trusted Advisor uses the phrase “Earn the right to be right.”  To earn the right, we must demonstrate that we truly understand and that we care about the client and the outcome.  We do that by asking questions.

Now, combine that with what we learn from The Checklist Manifesto.  This book wonderfully illustrates the importance of having checklists; even for those things we know but might forget.

Putting all this together resulted in our True North Project Scoping Checklist.

I built this starting with a set of questions I have had on my bulletin board for years.  I then augmented that by reviewing the questions included in key consulting books, some good information from the Corporate Executive Board, and other sources. The result is our checklist.

This is more than just a random list of questions.

It also outlines a process of the questioning process that leads to a solid understanding on our part and confidence on the part of the client.  It also includes several do’s and don’ts.  Everyone on my team now has this laminated and nearby.

Given how much time we spent developing this, I thought I’d give it to others who might value it.

Click here to download the True North Project Scoping Checklist.

Or, if you would like a laminated version, feel free to email [email protected] and we’ll send you one.  Our treat.

Enjoy and I hope it makes all of us better researchers, marketers, and business people.


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