I’ve been in enough meetings and worked on enough projects to know that one well-timed and innocently-asked stupid question can be a powerful tool for reframing problems, redirecting conversation, and encouraging a decision-oriented mindset.
On a particularly busy and brain-busting day a few weeks back, I noticed that I was asking the same type of questions over and over. I started tracking these “stupid” questions in a text document. It’s been useful to review this list periodically, and have pulled it up during meetings when I was feeling stuck.
You’re invited to steal your favorite questions and build your own stupid questions list.
Scott’s Stupid Questions
Last updated: March 4, 2013
- So what?
- Why not?
- What do we need to do next?
- What if we didn’t do this?
- What’s the absolute worst thing that can happen?
- What are we trying to decide right now?
- What decision do we need to make today?
- What if we flipped a coin?
- What’s the absolute bare minimum it has to do?
- Is there a service that will do this for us?
- Can we just pay someone to do this?
- Are we sure no one has done this work already?
- Does (so and so) still care about this project?
- If I’m not at the meeting can you get by?
- Will it go away if we ignore it?
- Why now?
- Is this worth fixing?
- Can we scrap it and start over?
- Where did this idea come from?
- Why there?
- Can it be shorter?
- Can it be faster?
- Can we give them more?
- What does (doing x) actually cost?
- Is anyone taking notes?
- Is 30 minutes enough?
- Will this get edited by anyone?
- Do we have all of the information?
- How do we know that that’s true?
- Do we believe this is possible?
- Why did it happen that way the first time?
- Will anyone care?
- What are we concerned about?
- Are we actually worried about this?
- Is a meeting necessary?
- Can’t we just ask them?
- Has anyone asked?