The power of great questions in projects

A friend directed to me to a podcast episode recently featuring Dane Maxwell, co-founder of The Foundation. In that interview, Dane wrecked my conventional wisdom about startups and building successful products. While most of us focus on the next great idea, Dane focuses on the next great question. His assertion is that building a successful, sustainable software company and, as he has done, repeat that success several times over, is not dependent on a great idea, great talent, or great skill. You just have to be great at asking questions. Great questions, as he illustrates in several case studies, uncover the most painful problem a business is experiencing, and, not surprisingly, the one they will gladly pay to solve.

Marry yourself to the problem, not the solution.
— Dane Maxwell

Great questions are also the tool of true value-pricers, pain-solvers, and those standing up to the culture of order-taking. It’s the way we uncover the problem that truly needs to be solved in our projects. By implementing great questions in your discovery process, you move from making what the client asks for to the much more powerful and profitable process of solving the client’s most painful business problem. When you aren’t afraid to dive deep with a client, to ask lots of questions that sometimes seem obvious or even silly, you never know what you’ll uncover. So start honing your questions. If you stick with it long enough, and you’ll find the problem that really needs to be solved.

I highly recommend listening to the whole episode and watching the videos on The Foundation.