From the Silverchair blog: “Why?”—A Question to Define Success & Add Value

If you have young kids, chances are you've lost patience with the number of times they've told you "No!" or asked you "Why?" But child development professionals will tell you that the use of those two words are positive signs of your child's cognitive, language, and social development.

Why? - audience members raising their hands

So why is it as adults and professionals, we so often skip asking why or don't feel like we can say no?

In my role as Director of Product at Silverchair, I tell my colleagues that asking why and saying no should be embraced as the norm. Yes, within reason. But delivering value to our clients (and to the Silverchair platform) is a top priority. And asking why and knowing when it's appropriate to say no are pieces of the value puzzle.

MVP = minimum viable product. This term has been around since at least 2001 and is a commonly over-used buzzword. Minimum does not mean the product doesn’t provide value to the customer. It means highest value feature(s) first. Solve the immediate or top problems first and get that value in front of the customer ASAP.

The story goes that you'll spend 20% of your project solving for 80% of your users, and then spend the remaining 80% of the project trying to solve for the remaining 20% of your users. MVP addresses the 80% of your users first.

But you cannot define a successful MVP without asking why.

It is important to ask, "Why do you need that feature?" Even better, "Why do you think your users need that feature?" What value will said feature bring to your bottom line? How often do you think this feature will be used? What user persona and problem are we solving for, and why is this more valuable than others?

Silverchair's Chief People Officer Susan Dawson adds, “Why questions can put many people on the defense, especially if they are coming from a person in a position of power like a leader or manager. A couple of suggestions to get at the same thing are, ‘Tell me more,’ ‘How did you get to this idea?,’ or ‘What are you trying to solve for?’”

In our fast-paced digital world, it's not easy remembering to ask why, regardless of whether the request is coming from a coworker, a client, or friend and family. But making why a regular part of your vocabulary will leave you feeling liberated because you and those around you will be focusing on the things that offer the most value. Give it a try over the next couple of weeksafter all, why not?

—Wes Royer, Director of Product

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