Just like you wouldn’t ask yes or no questions in an interview, there are discovery meeting questions you don’t want to ask when starting any project. This is especially true when it comes to websites. There are some classic questions that are just as toxic as asking a yes or no. There is one question I hate hearing as the kickoff question for any project.
The question you must avoid
“What do you want it to do?”
This question starts with the best intentions but doesn’t give you what you seek. “What do you want it to do” immediately sabotages your efforts because you start a tactical level. You forgo strategic conversations, and unless the project directly affects your client, “what they want it to do” is not what you’re really trying to answer. In most web projects, you’re really trying to answer how this project is going to be useful to their customers. It really matters what their customers would want it to do.
Change the conversation
Set your goal in discovery meetings to start at a strategic or “50,000 foot view.” Ask questions such as:
- “What problem are you trying to solve?”
- “What is the goal we’re trying to reach?”
- “If this project is successful, how will your business benefit?”
The most powerful discovery meeting questions create space to think strategically about the project. Are there sub-objectives that need to be accomplished? Are there multiple parties you’re trying to reach or serve? What are the measurable key performance indicators (KPI) that everyone can look at to provide a numerical vision of success?
If you are in a discovery meeting and find the conversation focusing on tactical options, change your questions to shift focus. You can identify these responses with “we want to automatically share our content to Facebook.” This is an action. Something to be done. It’s not necessarily a goal. Find out why the content should be shared to Facebook. With a “why” then you can come up with the “how.” Tactics are important, but the most effective tactics are from understanding what the end result should be. It’s easy to fall into a trap and get excited about what you can do, but focusing to early on features can lead to an unsuccessful project.
Do you have good examples of discovery meeting questions? I’m interested! Share them below!