Today, I share the first iteration of a question bank for use in a ‘knowledge management assessment’, ‘generic system implementation’, or ‘product development and innovation program’. The spreadsheet catalogs nearly 400 questions from 21 sources. The questions are organized by “where used” (one or more of the above contexts); what role, or roles, are targeted to answer the question; and by one, or more, of 28 topics.
This work started as a collection of questions for a knowledge management discovery phase. There are over 50 questions specifically targeted for that purpose. As I researched, I discovered many additional questions that apply to any system implementation, including a KM system…and I added these. Along the way, I also discovered many questions more relevant to product development and so I captured these marked to the third usage.
All this is on behalf of my July learning goal to level-up my elicitation technique. One component of best-in-class elicitation is to ask questions that elicit the maximum amount of insight possible. In constructing this bank, I wanted to go beyond simplistic guidance such as “use open-ended questions”, “don’t lead the witness”, and use the 5-Whys. Instead, I went after specific questions that I could then pick from, based on the needs of a particular project.
Download the Question Bank spreadsheet
- The questions are targeted for use in live interviews, in contrast to a survey.
- The ‘Customer’ is the person or group that is funding / purchasing the work.
- The ‘User’ is a person that hands-on uses the system and is, in the enterprise setting that I am interested in, rarely the Customer.
- The ‘Dup.’ column is a way to flag questions that are nearly identical but are from different sources. Each set of near-duplicates are assigned a number. For example, rows with ‘7’ are all some flavor of “how will success be measured?”.
- I always marked ‘Product Manager and/or Business Analyst’ as a target since not only are these roles asking the questions but they should also be considering if their own prior knowledge is relevant for inclusion.
- Handbook of Advanced Level Elicitation according to the IREB (International Requirements Engineering) Standard (143 pages, July 2019). I have a copy and I am now reading.
- Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation, by Phil McKinney (2012). I am now reading this book and the Question Bank already includes the questions from it.
- The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead, by Warren Berger (2018). I recently purchased this book and I plan to read it after I complete Beyond the Obvious. The Question Bank already includes 97 questions that are most strongly related to my interests, from circa 350 in the book.
- A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, by Warren Berger (2014). I recently purchased this book and I plan to read it after I complete Beyond the Obvious.
- Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro, by Dean Nelson (2019)
- Questions Are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life, by Hal Gregersen (2018)
- Research Questions Are Not Interview Questions, by Erika Hall (January 2019)
- The 4 Keys to Asking Better Questions, by Madison Semarjian (July 2018)
- How to lead with questions, not perfect answers, by Gustavo Razzetti (July 2018)
- Ask Better Questions, Harvard Business Review podcast interview of Leslie K. John and Alison Wood Brooks (May 2018)