Reasons, goals, and teamwork

Nick@Nick Finck says: When asked to jump, there are those who ask “how high?” & then there are those who ask “why?” Be the person who asks why.

I often find, in meetings with my colleagues, that I ask why a lot. And I know that it often comes across as, "Why on Earth would you want to do that?" I'm not sure why it comes off that way -- so I generally make an effort to qualify the question. "I'm not saying it's a bad idea. I'm asking what your reasoning is behind suggesting it." I've long sought a, perhaps, gentler way to ask, but I really can't think of one.

Without knowing the "why" behind a decision -- why are we planning to redesign? why do we need to hire more staff? why do you want to drop text there? -- you can't be confident that the decision is the right one. You can't get buy-in from your team. And it's really hard to ensure that followup decisions are made for the right reasons.

When egos are not allowed in the room, "Why?" (and the discussion that ensues) can be one of the most productive, effective, team-building things you can say to your colleagues.