Asking Questions- limitations and scope

Asking Questions- limitations and scope

The biggest reality in life is people. Understanding what motivates people to do what they do through questioning them might seem the solution. In reality, this isn't the case always. I would even dare to say that some questions increase the fog in front of us and we even become less understanding of what motivates people and how they make choices. Marketing surveys are one area in which we ask customers, analyze, extract guiding lines and then plan our actions- only for disappointment. The question now is what went wrong?

I did many surveys during my career. I am able to share two examples of asking questions that led to successful conclusions and I am in a position to share what went right and why the surveys worked. Mind you as not all surveys were equally successful and you should be able to figure out the and why these surveys failed.

In a study to gauge potential customers to a first of its kind sushi restaurant I could have asked in the survey the following question:

Would you eat sushi?

Fortunately, I didn't. Instead, I asked the following question:

If you were invited to a wedding and out of the following free ten dishes which three ones would you pick?

The second question reveals the current position of the interviewees. If they already eat sushi and love it they would tick it. The question is position-revealing. The question doesn't affect the current position of people. This is a hugely-important point because by not affecting the position we may be able to derive their direction of behavior. Remember the Hawthorne Uncertainty Principle. It is in action here. In contrast, is the first question on: would you eat sushi because it addresses the current position and hence affects the direction of behavior? The result of the survey showed that at the time a sushi restaurant would be a total failure. The client decided to go on with the project only to close doors after four months.

I find the same concept is very useful for interviewing candidates and revealing their positions without asking them directly. Instead of asking interviewees directly to find their current position only to become less certain about the direction of their behavior; there is a way to buffer this possibility. Questions that reveal information are like light that change the position of the people and thus we become less certain about it. I advocated the question of:

If you were to win a car of your choice what car would you choose?

I did an oral survey and got some very interesting responses. Some people went for spacious cars because they make the family comfortable. These people care for others. This is their current position without asking them directly about them. Other people mentioned safety and they go for risk-free cars. This is their current attitude to risk. Others went for fancy cars because they care for showiness. If interested, you may click the image below to go for the presentation I wrote on this topic. 999924b5.jpg


What triggered me to write this buzz is an informative buzz on "Question Everything ... Why? By Flavio Souza. I thank you Flavio for the inspiration.


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Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#36
Again, synchronicity in acton between us dear Sara Jacobovici

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#35
Sara Jacobovici- this is a comprehensive response to your comment.

Sara Jacobovici

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #27

#35
Thank you so much Mohammed Sultan for your kind words. I appreciate your elaboration and examples. Definitely these insights reinforce the concept.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#33
I am so glad that you find the buzz relevant dear Sara Jacobovici. Your comment counts heavily because and as usual you understood me very well. Yes, I do agree with you in that collecting ideas just for the sake of it serves no real purpose. If the purpose of asking is defined well, then we may be able to construct the right questions. I appreciate your kind words and these words make my writing journey purposeful. I need assurances that what I write adds some value and I am glad this buzz did no matter by what margin.

Sara Jacobovici

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #25

Ironic that the system measures your buzz as a 1 minute read Ali Anani. Not only did your buzz make me reread a few phrases like, "I would even dare to say that some questions increase the fog in front of us and we even become less understanding of what motivates people and how they make choices", but reading the comments and your replies kept my interest for much longer! It's great to see you moving from Flavio's buzz that asks existential type questions to focusing on human behavior and especially motivation. Both types are just as complex. There is a real reason why the Socratic method of learning through questions is so valuable. Questions reflect more than the answers. And that is why I feel, returning to your engaging perspective of surveys, that it may not be the questions that increase the fog but the choice of the questions and how they are administered. The success of your surveys reinforces that for me; you were thoughtful about the questions, how to word and construct rather than just ask questions to produce an answer for purposes of collecting data. There is an art to asking questions and your buzz demonstrates that.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

You said so beautifully Mohammed Sultan that I have nothing to add. I mean "."In effect,research and planning are made to fill the gap between a perfect formal knowledge and the need to act in state of imperfect knowledge,away from depending on our past held beliefs". Even when we think we know, soon we realize there remains so much more to know.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#29
This is truly a wonderful comment dear CityVP \ud83d\udc1d Manjit. I love it because it reflects forward thinking "I don't want to fight with people who are still experiencing the past and have no inkling that the future is what is seeded in their present". I love the restaurant example. It shall reside in my memory.

CityVP Manjit

CityVP Manjit

4 years ago #22

Marketing like everything else is evolving. A relative from in-laws in Leicester has a catering business where he too offers free dishes and actually does ask people to select three dishes. I consider him, like you to be more evolved on the evolutionary tree. He is beating is competitors hands down - so this kind of evolved thinking is beginning to reveal itself. Even if one could explain this as process, if we have not learned to see this way - we will continue in the old way. I don't want to fight with people who are still experiencing the past and have no inkling that the future is what is seeded in their present.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#27
Dear Mohammed Sultan- thank you so much for your comprehensive comment and highlighting what to do and not to do in an interview. Interviewers with high EI avoid embarrassing interviewees. Your comment is truly a guide to good interviews. This is a topic of its own. I salute you for sharing your vivid experience in this regard. My buzz focused on asking revealing questions whether in print or face-to-face encounters. No matter what how good the interviewers are or healthy the environment still asking the right questions is a necessity. I do appreciate your elaboration.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#25
First, I thank you heartedly dear friend David Navarro L\u00f3pez for sharing your personal story. I think this story is a buzz on its own because it is a perfect example of how the environment and circumstances change the emphasis. Your response differed because the passion in your answer to your mother differed from the passion to the company's owner.Variable circumstances require variant responses. All of them were true, but the priority changed. However; if you had three interviews for three different companies may be then your response would not have changed that much. My last point is that the question influences our responses. If the question was phrased differently then you would have answered it differently. This is what I tried to highlight in this buzz.

David Navarro Lรณpez

David Navarro Lรณpez

4 years ago #19

Once again, a very challenging post, my admired friend. Would like to bring some sand grains to it. I have been in many interviews, on both sides of the table. How the questions are done is certainly a big issue to consider. But in my opinion there are other components can not be ignored, like the environment or circumstances, the momentum, and the feelings between the two parties. On my most recent job interview, I was asked by the owner of the company why I wanted to work for his company. Answer was, because I wanted to work for a company that makes great machines, which is my passion. My mom set the same question, and my answer was, because it is a german company, so I will have a safe work within a country that gives great social benefits. To my friends, the answer was that I was tired of wasting my talent in a job/country where it was no longer possible to grow as a professional. To my daughter and sister, because I thought it was the time to make a big change in my life, challenging myself to continue my personal growth, now that my family responsibilities had changed. All the answers are true. The question was the same in all cases.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#23
Kevin Baker- you "baked" my emotions elegantly with your concise and motivating comment. Thank you

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#21
Because I trust your evaluations and ingenuity ans equal as I trust the quality of your buzzes Gert Scholtz your comment means a lot for me. You fill me with positive energy and I am deeply grateful to you.

Gert Scholtz

Gert Scholtz

4 years ago #16

Ali Anani I find your post stretching my mind in a good way. There is the ability to talk well, to write well and to listen well. Your post illuminates the ability to question well. Thank you.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#19
Obivously you have a deep understanding of surveys dear Mohammed Sultan. Your comment is superb and highlights the role of surveys n completing a feasibility study. I agree fully with you. Unfortunately, many times the survey asks questions with the wrong wordings and style. They provide answers, but not to the need of the feasibility. It is a repeating problem because when we do surveys we ask questions that either affect the position of the interviewees or their behavioral direction and motivation. We can't know precisely the position and direction simultaneously and we end up confusing ourselves. You must have a reason to mention the 65%. I don't have the statistics, but it seems a valid one. Again, I thank you my friend for writing such a comprehensive comment.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#17
Will check dear debasish majumder. Thank you

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#15
Thank you dear debasish majumder and true that we tend to design surveys sometimes to suit our expectations. By the way I haven't seen new buzzes recently from you. Or, did I miss any? I am not as frequent on beBee as before because of work engagements. Please let me know.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

Dear Harvey Lloyd- honestly, you never stop teasing my mind and this time immensely. Two statement drew my attention: "Surveys will need to gravitate more towards human nature and less product specific" and, "They sold experiences and engagement". You are an extremely profound person my friend. You always indirectly tempt me or even force me willingly to think of my previous publications. I recall once finding from a survey that girls bought strawberry-flavored drink not for the sake of its flavor. They bought for the experience. It was it was a substitute to the expensive cosmetics. Yes, it was a cheap source of lipstick. The girls' engagement and behavior are embolic in what you wrote in your comments here. I now started to see things differently.

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #11

#12
I enjoy the view from many perspectives. Your broad life experience allows me to see through your eyes what you write. The true essence of affinity networking. I am not quite as abstract as you but enjoy bringing your thoughts into my domain. I was pointing to the do you eat sushi question as the first question, yes/no example. I believe that survey's today are struggling to keep up with the variables in small business. New businesses that grasp the concept of the engagement process via online and community and its leverage to beat the odds in some cases. Surveys will need to gravitate more towards human nature and less product specific. I refer to this as the principals of a potential customer experience. In a very distant existence we worked with huge real estate firms in placing retail stores and bringing the stores on line. Zogby was the agency we used to determine location. This is where i developed my fascination with human behavior. They could nail a location through magazine subscriptions and hone down to the customer the retailer served. They didn't miss to often. But those days have now evolved into a different set of qualifiers in seeking location or customer. I have watched businesses develop in some of the local towns around me i thought would never survive only to become a flying success because the product or service was not what the true sale was about. They sold experiences and engagement. The irony of this is that we are reverting back to the Tupperware parties of the 70's and 80's, having a party where folks can buy a plastic bowl.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#11
I thank you for expanding the horizon of the buzz Harvey Lloyd. I am indeed thankful as you open my eyes to new possibilities. I didn't ask in the first question if the interviewee would eat sushi or not. I offered a list of ten dishes to choose three. That only 1% ticked the sushi meal revealed that even if sushi was offered for free they still wouldn't go for it. THis was the interviewees undeclared position. I loved this part of your comment immensely "Its not the knowledge that i seek but rather the use of knowledge under pressure". This is a great idea to ponder on. As for your writing "Plenty of variables in business that could align with surveys or totally destroy the outcome"- I find this a gem. When we have many variables they may show the butterfly effect- one variable may affect drastically the outcome of the survey. I am working on finding personal examples to highlight this very relevant issue. I am very grateful to your comments because they increase my lust to know more.

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #9

Agreed, But the wedding question would invoke context. Each person has experienced a wedding and would set their mind at a place and time in answering the question. It is difficult to ask your first question as we tend to get a flat yes or no. The second question has tapped into our subconscious of our wedding experiences. Choosing the context of the question has always been important for me. Asking questions around high school or sports can set the mind in a place momentarily so i can see different things. The limbic system is what i wish to engage. Those automatic responses that show ingrained behavior. Its not the knowledge that i seek but rather the use of knowledge under pressure. I digress. I am not a survey question writer, but i would think some parallels exist. Surveys certainly have some tidal revelations but the deeper you get towards answering key business questions they tend to leave you wanting. Plenty of variables in business that could align with surveys or totally destroy the outcome. This is an area i enjoy. Your post is spot on in considering how we ask questions. Open ended vs closed ended and for me, context.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#9
Yes, your suggested questions are revealing Harvey Lloyd. The main point for me is to get info with probing questions without changing the position of the interviewee because if we do that we become less certain about them. Questions have their momentum and even though they might be light with little mass; yet they might have the velocity to increase their momentum. If we try to now their current position ten we shall be less aware and more uncertain of their directional behavior. We ask more only to know less in these cases.

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #7

#8
In the end we want to start with principals. If i can find these then i can move forward with the individual. If i cant find their principals then i cant know the fit within our organization. Not a survey person but would think that if we could find the way to engage principals through our questions then we might get back better feedback. Maybe: Its family night and you want to bring the family to a new experience in dining which of the following ten restaurants would you choose? Or; A good friends birthday is coming up and you want a unique gift, which of the following restaurants would you choose? Or something like that.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#7
Harvey Lloyd- my friend, my answer is simply yes. Your comment reminds me of one of my closest-to-heart presentation that I wrote a year ago on Riverse Businesses: http://www.slideshare.net/hudali15/reverse-businesses Your comment is another great example of what I meant in reverse businesses. Yes, let the interviewee be the interviewer- this is a great way of looking at this issue. Thank you

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #5

Would this concept not work in reverse? Given the resume coaches and internet based reads of this nature giving the interviewee a basis to give feedback? I have interviewed quite a few folks and some have been interview savvy. My goal has always been to get them to relax. The savvy interviewee was never really been able to do so. This made it hard to see beyond the mechanical exterior of their stoic presentation. I have always found that most interviewers wanted to lead with questions, i wanted to hear the potential hire talk, preferably about non professional activities. The inquirer has to up the game on a constant basis as the target is getting more and more savvy to the questions.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#2
Yes, and your point is understood> Questions may reveal with whom we are working. Thank you for the illumination TC West

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

Thank you dear Flavio \ud83c\uddef\ud83c\uddf5 Souza \ud83d\udc1d for highlighting the value of the interviews question and for spotting your light of wisdom. I also thank you for inspiring me to write this buzz.

Ali ๐Ÿ Anani, Brand Ambassador @beBee

#1
Thank you dear Laurent Boscherini for your very very insightful comment. I assure you that you are a very wise man, my friend.

Laurent Boscherini

Laurent Boscherini

4 years ago #1

Thank you dear Ali Anani for sharing your very educational post, so insightful as the wise man you are. " The two powers which in my opinion constitute a wise man are those of bearing and forbearing." - Epictetus

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