Don’t Have Questions. Have Dilemmas.

I had a boss once who wouldn’t listen to you if you came to him with a question. Ever. He would just turn you away.

His philosophy was that if you come with a question, then you haven’t really thought about an answer. You didn’t take the time to sit down and think things through, you didn’t research possible answers yourself, and you didn’t ask anyone else for advice. You got to a fork in the road, and instead of working out which direction was better, or building a list of pros and cons, you chose the easy way out, and asked your boss to decide for you.

But that isn’t what your boss is there for. And if you haven’t thought of an answer by yourself, or done some research, or even asked other people – then what is he paying you for?

So when we came across problems that we couldn’t find a good answer to on our own, we had to sit down and think about them. If we didn’t find a solution or an answer that seemed to fit, or we weren’t sure what answer was better, then we could go to the boss (and his door was always open in this case) and present our dilemma. Should we choose option A or option B?

This would open up a discussion, of course. Why do we think option A is better? What good points does option B have? Did we think what would happen if the situation changes? Isn’t there an option C that we can go with?

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At the end of the discussion, you would end up with a decision, and of course tasks to support that decision.

Meetings are much like that.

When you go to a meeting just to ask questions, or organize a meeting just to ask questions – you aren’t doing your job. You haven’t done any research, you have no options to offer, you don’t really know what’s better and what’s not. You came across a problem, and you did the second easiest thing, after asking your boss. You convened a meeting.

You want to know something? That’s not what meetings are there for, either.

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