One of the things I absolutely love about my role as a business analyst is that I get to ask all sorts of naïve questions of my clients. Being a business analyst creates the permission to call out the ‘elephant in the room’ and to ask those deepest, darkest political questions that others might be avoiding. Clearly, this must always be done with respect, rapport and from an angle of curiosity – and when done well, those “naïve” questions can yield some extremely interesting outcomes and can create debates that help solidify and clarify organisational or project direction. It helps avoid problems before they occur.
Even when working on projects, a group of apparently harmonious business stakeholders might suffer from invisible and insidious conflict bubbling away beneath the surface. It’s just waiting to jump out – and if it isn’t exposed and dealt with early, it will grow and grow until it reaches an explosive proportion. The conflict may have been festering for weeks, months or even years. Naïve questions are a great way of exposing this conflict, ensuring everyone is on the ‘same page’ and pushing in the same direction. Having some external challenge can be a great way of exposing this conflict and creating contentious yet productive debate. In this article, I’m going to share a few “naïve” questions with you that can help in these situations.
There are many questions that we could ask; here are just a few of my favourites. These questions work in many situations – whether you’re working in a mid-size, small or multinational organisation. They work when undertaking projects, as well as when considering business changes, challenges and business strategies. They are useful for business analysts and business stakeholders alike: