Getting the Right Answer Needs the Right Question

Ask the question that will give you the answer you need. Simple, right? Why ask questions that don't give us  the answer. Common sense? Maybe. That statement wouldn't be necessary if we actually asked the questions that will give us the answers that we need. We don't pay enough attention to the questions being asked.  We need to think about the questions to be asked when solving problems.We need to spend some time on working out the questions that need to be asked.
There is a tendency to over-think it or to not think about it at all. The result is the same: The wrong question gets asked. The key thing to focus on is: are the questions going to give the answers that we are looking for?
Over-thinking a question will result in a question that will be formulated incorrectly. For example, do we ask the shop keeper how much sugar we need for the week? Why shouldn't we? They know more about sugar than us. We know that we should ask the people who know more about something than us to get a useful answer.
But it isn't about sugar, isn't it? The question is really about us or to be more exact, how much sugar we need. So the correct person to ask is ourselves. Think about how much sugar we have been using. We should ask ourselves when was the last time we bought sugar and how much. That will give us an estimate of how much sugar we will need for the week and how much to buy. We should also plan ahead and ask ourselves whether we will need more sugar than usual in the coming week.
The problem with the original approach was that we applied a concept that we know incorrectly. We wrongly applied something we know. We know that people who know more about something than us can give us the answer. Only we wanted to know more about us than about sugar. The store-keeper doesn't know how much sugar we need. They know how much sugar they have. Most likely, they will ask us questions. Based on our answers, they can give suggestions. In both of the correct approaches, we are giving the answers because the issue is about us, not about sugar.
This is a silly example, right? How about computers users demanding to be given the program or application that will make them work better from people they are meeting for the first time? The idea is that the expert should know what they need. We should be told what we need by the people who know more and those that are asking question from us don't know what they are talking about. Is it correct to assume those who are asking questions know less that those who don't? To get a solution to a problem, we don't need to ask questions, right? That sounds silly but it often happens. There is no surprise that those computer users won't get something that solves their problem totally.
Asking the right questions in Step2 is will better define the problem. I love a scene from the movie Moneyball. It is early in the movie and the Manager, Billy Bean, is faced with the loss of his star player. While his assistants are busy arguing over their options of players who could fit the star player's role (basically Step3), Billy Bean refuses to move from Step2, defining the problem. He boiled it down to "Are we asking the right question?" To him, replacing the star player is not the question. The question is "What do they need to do to win?" By describing the problem through this question, the problem being that there weren't winning, he broaden the focus of the solution not just from a single player but to the entire team. I recommend watching the movie.
Asking and answering questions is an essential part of communication. Asking question from people with answers will help us solve our problems. Knowing to ask the right question will yield the most useful answers and solves our problem faster.
Continued on in part 2.