A Simple Secret to Finding Answers to Business & Product Questions
This is another one of those pieces of wisdom I learned after I turned 30 (so either I was dumb as rocks before or there is some upside that goes along with hair loss). In hindsight, it’s probably the most non-obvious, obvious thing I’ve ever learned. Simply put, “it’s better to just ask”. What I mean by this is if you don’t know the answer to something, it’s a lot smarter to just find someone who does and ask them rather than to try and reinvent the wheel on your own (although it turns out people really love trying to make new wheels). In pretty much every field of business or human experience there is someone who has already gone through some part of what you are doing. Why not save yourself the time spent speculating and just ask them about their experience?
A lot of people avoid doing this at all costs. This could be for a variety of reasons; scared to hear something that disagrees with their belief, like to fancy themselves a “visionary”, shy, didn’t even consider it, etc. No matter what the reason, the sooner you become aware of this very obvious solution to your business (and life) problems, the better off you will be.
About 99% of every business is not novel. It’s just not. No matter what you think, someone has already done large elements of whatever you are doing. So there is probably one or a few “best ways” to do some task. You might as well just ask someone who has done it before. This is sort of analogous to software libraries. Imagine if each time a developer wanted to build something, he/she couldn’t take advantage of existing code that others have written. It would take forever. The same is true for non technical problems. The sooner you just ask for the answer, the more time you will have to focus on the 1% of your business that is novel.
In addition to this being a common problem when it comes to process and strategy, it’s also one when trying to understand what your customers want. I have heard too many never ending arguments going in circles between a group of people about product/marketing/sales strategy. And guess what, none of these people are the customer. Why not just ask? For some reason they usually don’t.
I don’t really like referring to things as “life hacks” because that makes me feel like a schmuck. But this probably is a life hack.