Tony Robbins has a slick one-liner in one of his self-help books. He says:
Questions are the answer.
For a Business Analyst that is certainly true. We are members of a profession like law and journalism, where success is built on asking the right questions, in the right way, at the right time. I’ve spent most of my professional life consciously trying to improve my ability to ask questions.
I’m discovering just how important this is in academia too. I’m doing a Research Methods course as part of my MSc at Bristol and I have to think about questions and answers in a whole new way: I must think of them as the set-up for a piece of research, and the research has to be doable.
Now I thought I was reasonably clear on what I want to do for my dissertation. Something along the lines of “What mitigates for success or failure of a corporate Knowledge Base, and is it worth the time and effort?” -Sounds nice and crisp and – hey – how cool is that use of “mitigates” eh?
But when you pick it over, you find it’s as full of holes as a crunchie. Let’s define a few paramaters here: what do I mean by “success” and “failure”? And scope: what is a corporate Knowledge Base anyway, and what things aren’t corporate knowledge bases? And metrics, let’s define some metrics: how do you measure what’s “worth it” and what isn’t?
My usual stand-bys don’t work in this context. If I was running a workshop and put this question to the team, I’d supplement it with “what does good look like?” and “what do you mean by… success / failure / corporate knowledge base” etc, etc, and put the answers up on the whiteboard.
Maybe what I’m learning is that it’s much harder to answer questions than to ask them.