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How to Ask Good Questions

How to Ask Good Questions

Strata + Hadoop World London 2016

The Difference Engine

June 01, 2016
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  1. HOW TO
    ASK GOOD
    QUESTIONS
    @farrahbostic
    #strataconf
    1 June 2016

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  2. HI, 

    I’M @FARRAHBOSTIC.
    I RUN…

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  3. SO, HOW DO YOU
    FIND THE RIGHT
    QUESTIONS?

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  4. WHY DO WE ASK
    QUESTIONS?

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  5. TO UNDERSTAND

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  6. TO TEST HYPOTHESES

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  7. TO TRACK PROGRESS

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  8. OBJECTIVES INFLUENCE STRUCTURE (AND TOOLS)
    DISCOVERING
    EXPLORING
    UNDERSTANDING
    TESTING
    TRACKING
    How might we…?
    What is possible?
    Why?
    Will this work?
    How are we doing?
    QUALITATIVE
    QUANTITATIVE

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  9. GOALS BEFORE TOOLS
    SO YOU CAN…
    USE…
    YOU WANT TO KNOW…
    How is our brand doing?
    Are our customers happy?
    What are people really doing?
    Which feature or design should I choose?
    What is the customer experiencing?

    What consumer or cultural trends affect
    our brand?
    How do our customers live & work?

    Who could our customers be?
    Brand Tracking Surveys
    Net Promoter Score
    Analytics
    A/B Testing
    User Interviews

    Co-creation Workshops &
    Competitive Audits
    Ethnography & 

    Service Safaris
    Segmentation Surveys
    Plan and optimize features or content
    Use evidence instead of opinions
    Improve the experience, or design new ones
    Identify opportunities for brainstorming
    Develop personas, customer journey maps,
    and hypotheses for new concepts
    Identify weaknesses and gaps for
    improvement
    Size market segments and understand how
    they value your product/brand
    Identify opportunities for improvement
    © The Difference Engine LLC 2016

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  10. WHERE DO GOOD
    QUESTIONS COME
    FROM?

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  11. LESSONS FROM LAW
    ESTABLISH 

    THE FACTS
    SPOT 

    THE ISSUE
    IDENTIFY 

    THE RULE
    PREDICT 

    AN OUTCOME

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  12. LESSONS FROM SCIENCE
    ➤ You know what a hypothesis is, yes?
    ➤ ὑπόθεσις “to suppose”
    ➤ It’s a proposed explanation for something.
    ➤ You have to be able to test it.
    ➤ The simplest explanation should (usually) be the best.
    ➤ It should apply to more than one instance of the thing happening.
    ➤ It should help explain other things in the future.
    ➤ It should fit with the evidence.

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  13. LESSONS FROM D SCHOOL
    ➤ Amp up the good
    ➤ Remove the bad
    ➤ Explore the opposite
    ➤ Question an assumption
    ➤ Go after adjectives
    ➤ ID unexpected resources
    ➤ Create an analogy from need or context
    ➤ Play POV against the challenge
    ➤ Change a status quo
    ➤ Break POV into pieces
    “How Might We” Questions
    METHOD






    “How might we” (HMW) questions are short questions that launch brainstorms. HMWs fall out of your
    point-of-view statement or design principles as seeds for your ideation. Create a seed that is broad enough
    that there are a wide range of solutions but narrow enough that the team has some helpful boundaries. For
    example, between the too narrow “HMW create a cone to eat ice cream without dripping” and the too
    broad “HMW redesign dessert” might be the properly scoped “HMW redesign ice cream to be more
    portable.” It should be noted, the the proper scope of the seed will vary with the project and how much
    progress you have made in your project work.
    Begin with your Point of View (POV) or problem statement. Break that larger challenge up into smaller
    actionable pieces. Look for aspects of the statement to complete the sentence, “How might we…” It is
    often helpful to brainstorm the HMW questions before the solutions brainstorm. For example, consider
    the following POV and resulting HMW statements.
    Challenge: Redesign the ground experience at the local international airport
    POV: Harried mother of three, rushing through the airport only to wait hours at the gate, needs to entertain
    her playful children because “annoying little brats” only irritate already frustrated fellow passengers.
    Amp up the good: HMW use the kids’ energy to entertain fellow passenger?
    Remove the bad: HMW separate the kids from fellow passengers?
    Explore the opposite: HMW make the wait the most exciting part of the trip?
    Question an assumption: HMW entirely remove the wait time at the airport?
    Go after adjectives: HMW we make the rush refreshing instead of harrying?
    ID unexpected resources: HMW leverage free time of fellow passengers to share the load?
    Create an analogy from need or context: HMW make the airport like a spa? Like a playground?
    Play POV against the challenge: HMW make the airport a place that kids want to go?
    Change a status quo: HMW make playful, loud kids less annoying?
    Break POV into pieces: HMW entertain kids? HMW slow a mom down? HMW mollify delayed passengers?
    How Might We . . .?

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  14. HOW DO WE
    ARTICULATE GOOD
    QUESTIONS?

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  15. LESSONS FROM SEMIOTICS
    ➤ Syntax: Ensure correct grammatical arrangement of words in sentences.
    ➤ Semantics: Combine words to create meaningful discourse, taking context into
    account.
    ➤ Pragmatics: Understand how we really use language to convey meaning.
    ➤ Idiosyncratics: Modulate word choice and order based on relationships, culture,
    context and content.

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  16. PRIMING & CHOICE

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  17. “EVERY QUESTION YOU
    ASK IS A PRIME FOR
    QUESTIONS THAT FOLLOW”
    Paul Soldera, Equation Research

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  18. “WE DON’T HAVE A
    LINEAR RELATIONSHIP
    WITH OUR OPINIONS.”
    Paul Soldera, Equation Research

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  19. HOW DO REAL PEOPLE
    ENCODE INFORMATION IN
    THIS SITUATION?

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  20. SOME USEFUL RULES OF THUMB
    ➤ Start with the end in mind.
    ➤ Hypothesize - ask yourself “how might we” questions.
    ➤ Identify what information you’ll need.
    ➤ Don’t assume facts not in evidence.
    ➤ Go and see for yourself before you write a survey.
    ➤ Use the right tools for the job.
    ➤ Don’t lead the witness.
    ➤ Be clear.

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  21. THANKS.
    (MORE TO COME)

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