Episode 51
Guest: Philip Grother

Episode 51: Questions for Product Design w/Philip Grother

Mar 30 / Petra Färm
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Asking better questions for better Product Design
“Foreknowledge cannot be gotten from ghosts and spirits, cannot be found out by calculation. It must be obtained from people, …”

Art of War

And how do we obtain it? One way is to ask questions and listen to the answer. Open up your mind, understand the other person’s context.

When I studied English at college, we got an assignment to explore people’s relationship with their job. We wrote the questions, did the interview and then we were to summarize what we had learnt. We also had to record the interview. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to explore jobs that I myself NEVER would do, which was a great thought but I didn’t the wrong way. I interviewed one call girl and two soldiers. My English teacher was really upset with me, actually she was almost flat out angry. Apparently, I did nothing but condemn these people for the choices they had made in their life, even though they did it to put food on the table or pay for college or whatever. She told me there was NO chance in hell that any of them would ever open up to me and that I was disrespectful for not listening to them. Afterall, they had taken time to talk to me.

Agh, that hurt. And was true. And sometimes I STILL do the same mistake. In prototype testing for example, it is very easy to switch to a defensive mode and start thinking this person is not worthy of my product.

I can only hope you are better than I am both at asking questions but perhaps foremost at listening to the answers.