My Brilliant Idea Jar Idea.

We have an idea jar in our office. I could write a whole blog post on just the idea of an idea jar. But I have to tell you about my brilliant idea. Yesterday, I wrote down “ask more questions” and dropped it in. Mind-blowing, right?

Stick with me.

The Proof team works with companies, schools, and nonprofits from all over the country, with different missions, different voices, and different hopes for their brands. It’s probably pretty obvious that we should ask a lot of questions to get to the root of the thing. And you’re totally right.

Truth be told, after working on dozens, if not hundreds, of campaigns over the years, I have never been more convinced: The number one thing that helps us get from the cute little beginning nugget of an idea, to the best result for any brand, is asking more questions.

The first question we ask here at Proof is “why.” There’s always a “why” for the “what,” and the answer to that question is the basis of any good start.

But not all questions are “big” questions. The question “Who’s doing what by when,” is a project manager’s best friend. And “I heard you say _____. Is that right?” is mine.

All that said, I’ll be the first to admit it’s so easy to not ask questions. Not asking all your questions (or god forbid, any questions) will surely get you out of the meeting faster. And yes, we’ve all been there — wishing your co-worker would just stop asking questions; your stomach’s about to eat itself!

But resist. Next time you’re in a meeting, resist the urge to just “get the heck out of there” and ask your questions. And even better, if you’re running a meeting, leave at least 10 minutes at the end, free for anyone to ask for more information or clarify what you’ve said.

If no one pipes up with any questions, one of my old bosses would take that opportunity to ask someone to recap the plan for everyone. This almost always flushed out any lingering uncertainties.

Asking more questions is one of the sharpest tools in our toolbox. It helps us communicate, and get to the best result more effectively and efficiently.

So, when in doubt, ask.

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