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I asked a loaded question and got back exactly the answers I expected

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Probably the most interesting part about this post, in which I asked you what you wanted to read on iwillteachyoutoberich, was the answers I received. Out of 154 comments, about 80% of the responses fell into the categories I pre-suggested.

Think about that for a second. Imagine what kind of disparate (and useless) answers you’d get if you went into a meeting and asked, “What should we do?”

What if, instead, you said, “Here are 3 choices I’ve thought through. Which do you like best, and why?”

Taking 5 minutes to frame your question matters. As David Kelly, CEO of IDEO, notes, “One of my buddies always says never go to a meeting without a prototype, and he always wins.” Seth Godin has also written on this topic.

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6 Comments on "I asked a loaded question and got back exactly the answers I expected"

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Sabrina's Money Matters
9 years 1 month ago

One of my favorite quotes is, “Chance favors the prepared mind”.
Indeed a methodology that works…

Ross
9 years 1 month ago

I agree that almost all meetings turn to waste when you show up without an agenda. I was involved in a company two years ago that spent 75% of its lifespan with weekly meetings where nothing (NOTHING) got done and we would spend an hour doing this (NOTHING). It wasn’t until the final stretch of the business where we required a specific agenda that we saw any momentum. Surprisingly, the length of our meetings cut down to around 30 minutes as well!!

The most productive move – cut out meetings all together!!

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9 years 1 month ago

[…] Sethi has a short but sweet observation in I asked a loaded question and got back exactly the answers I expected  Required […]

Ryan Geist
Ryan Geist
9 years 1 month ago
I like it. I’ve certainly learned this lesson during my last couple years in consulting. As a “big thinker” type, I LOVE brainstorming – it is absolutely my favorite part of the creative process. But it’s just not efficient. “What if” are the two most commonly used words during a brainstorming session – hardly a call to action. In school we can “what if” all we want – we’re discussing theory, provoking thought, maybe even inducing a higher level of thinking with some blacklights and Pink Floyd. But life after school – when you actually have to get shit done… Read more »
Callum
9 years 1 month ago

Offering choices helps to focus a decision, but it also restricts creative thought. For example, take a prototype to a meeting in order to get support, yes. Take a prototype to a meeting in order to create something new, no.

Open Space Technology is a great example of effective, unstructured creative thinking.

Both have their place. Leading your readers to choose topics you want to talk about does seem like a sensible idea… 🙂

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