Asking the right questions

Following up on Anne’s blog entry about focusing on the viewpoint of the customer,  I have been thinking about how to better inform my clients about what they can expect from me, rather than on what I offer them, and was delighted to find a really relevant article in FreePint’s FUMSI.  “Key to Research Success: Asking the Right Questions” by Jane John.

All information professionals know the problem that clients  phrase their requirements to fit what they expect the answer to be – rather than what they really want.  Jane sets out this problem very clearly –

A key step in matching your ‘search’ with your ‘find’ is asking the right question at the start of the process. Competitive Intelligence professionals may call this ‘requirements’ or key intelligence topics. Corporate library reference staff may call it the reference interview. An independent information professional (IIP) doing a large project may call it project scoping. The bottom line is the same – what is the question?

And even better, list some very useful ways to tackle this core issue.

Although the article is aimed at information professionals it is equally relevant to the many Mikronetters who are involved with coaching or journalism – I recommend that that you have a look at it.