a doodle of a guy questioning his work and a mom caring her kid

At work, it’s common that people asking me to do stuff saying it’s requirements. Instead of just start working, I usually start questioning.

  • What does the business want to achieve with this requirement?
  • Who will benefit from this requirement?
  • How will this requirement be consumed?
  • And many more questions

Of course, some people get frustrated about this. Some may feel like I’m hard to work with. Some may feel like I’m lazy and trying to deflect works.

But with some explanations and some time, We usually come with a mutual understanding.

That I truly care about their requirements.

Why questioning is caring?

Let’s take a look at this hypothetical situation of how a mom can respond to this situation with her kid.

Let’s say the kid says he want to go to a gym.

Scenario 1: The mom gives the kid what he wants

The quickest and easiest way for the mom is to pay for her kid’s gym membership and just take him there.

Doodle of a mom take her kid to a gym

It is convenient. Both of them happy. The kid now gets what he ask for.

Scenario 2: The mom asks the kid why

What if instead of giving money right away, the mom asks the kid about why he wants to go to the gym. The kid says he wants to lose some weight.

Doodle of a kid who wants to lose weight

Then instead of just going to the gym, the mom also starts cooking a healthy meal for the kid.

Doodle of a mom who take her kid to the gym and also cook healthy food for him

The mom may have to do more works cooking for her kid, but she knows that her kid will be more likely to lose some weight.

Scenario 3: The mom asks the kid why and more why

What if the mom asks why the kid wants to lose some weight? The kid says because he is not confident of how he looks. Doodle of a kid telling his mom that he is not confident

The mom realizes that the boy has not had a haircut in 4 months, wearing a too-small dress comparing to his body. The mom starts by taking him to a barber for nice hair cut and buy him a couple of new clothes.

Doodle of a mom take a kid to a barber and later buy him some new cloths

The kid’s confidence is skyrocketed.

The point is, even if the kid comes to his mom saying he wants to go to a gym, but in fact, what he needs may be not-entirely related to what he asks for.

By really understanding his needs, then the mom can give him a better care.

Questioning requirements, to come up with the best possible solutions

It’s easy to just follow any requirements that come to your way blindly. The requirement owner will have his requirement done. The job will be seemingly done. But there will be a chance that the requirement will not yield any value, or less value than it should be.

Regardless of our positions in the team (BA, developer, designer, QA, etc.), we all should care about the real needs of the requirements. Through questioning, we can better share an understanding of the needs of the requirements, which will lead us to come up with better solutions for businesses.