questions

Be Inquisitive

Have an Inquisitive Mind

If I had to pick one thing I knew for certain my wife likes about me, it would be my inquisitive nature. She says it regularly. It’s because we’ll be talking about something and I’ll blurt out, “I wonder how that started,” or “Who do you think the first person to try that was,” or “I wonder if that’s because of <X>.” One of the reasons I love going to Disney World is because I like figuring out the Disney Magic. They push the limits of technology and engineering and I want to know how they got to those limits. But being inquisitive isn’t just about picking up fun facts or things to file away for pub quiz (or quizzo, or whatever it’s call near you). There are lots of ways being inquisitive has helped me, both personally and professionally.

Answer Questions that are Being Asked

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Socratic Method? At The University of Scranton, we loved good old Socrates, so we studied him and his methods a lot. The general idea, derived from how he would debate people, is to ask a series of questions until you get to the truth of the matter. He would often question people until they backed themselves into corners. Another, similar method is the “5 Whys.” You keep asking why until you get to the real root of the issue. The idea here is that you want to solve the right problem, so you need to know what the real problem is.

What I Learned from Asking, “How did you build that?”

Over the last few months, I’ve interviewed dozens of people, asking a pointed question: “How did you build that?” In that time I learned common tools, business decisions, and generosity. Recently I gave a talk where I went through the most important lessons I learned, and some tools to get the job done.

Make Assumptions/Don’t Make Assumptions

As a programmer, I feel like I’m trained to make a lot of assumptions. Yes, I get as many requirements as possible from the clients/users, but there are some unanswered questions, ways things should be implemented, or just things left up to the expertise of the person doing the work. Making good assumptions is as much part of a project as anything else. However, it should not be a default mindset for everything.