Ask the Next Question

My girlfriend’s eight year old son was squinting at school. It was suggested she take him to an optometrist. The dutiful mother booked him in straight away.

Two weeks later as her son was being taken through the normal round of eye tests, all seemed to be fine. Then, all of a sudden, the optometrist asked the boy –

“Can you see the blackboard at school?”

The boy answered “no”.

Confused, the optometrist continued with her testing. Again, his eyes seemed perfect. She then repeated the question in a different way:

“Can you see the blackboard when you are sitting at the front of the classroom?”

Again, the boy responded with a resounding “No”.

Staring down the barrel of wearing glasses, the boy’s mother interjected and asked her son why if all the tests are okay in the eye testing room, can’t you see the blackboard at school?

And her son answered “Because we don’t have a blackboard at school.”

While we all may giggle at the beauty and innocence of the boy’s literal interpretation of the question, there is a key learning for all of us.

“Ask the next question.” The quality of the questions you ask strongly impacts on the quality of outputs you produce.”

Look what may have happened if the mother did not ask the next question.

When you are briefing an agency, observe the questions they ask at the outset. The outcome of your campaign is dependent on the questions that are covered in the briefing stage.

The same principal applies when interviewing new candidates, employees or just having a relaxed conversation with a colleague. Insightful questions create insightful outcomes.

This Small Act of “asking the next question” can have a Major Impact on your understanding of a business, person or campaign.