The Right Question to Ask

Back in the simpler days of IT, there were not that many frameworks or methodologies for business or IT to worry about.

When the business needs something from IT, they talked about what they are trying to accomplish or how things need to work differently.

These days, we in IT asks our business clients to give us the “requirements.”

By following the industry frameworks and methodologies, we look for a detailed write-up on how things ought to look, which systems need to interface with which, data processed in what formats, what are the networking connectivity, and so on.

I have seen many of such interactions between IT analysts and business users. Usually, one or both sides sound unsure or confused. Both sides work hard and try not to offend the others. The conversations feel unproductive because we are not asking the right question.

The right question ought to be… “What are we trying to accomplish and how things need to work differently this time?”

Or just as well… “How do you want your stuff/operation to run differently or better?”

By sticking with the business terms for discussions, everyone can walk away knowing confidently both sides have a common understanding.

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