I learned a wonderful trick today that completely resonates with me, and I wanted to share it. Perhaps I should start a new program management category for this kind of thing, seems like I’ve been writing about it a lot recently.
The problem: You have a question. You need an answer. You know the person or group of people who can answer the question. You ask them the question, but you never hear back… you might have to continually checkin every few days or weeks, you might have to cc their manager, etc… but that’s an awful lot of work just to get the answer to a question.
The solution: Send the mail to the person or group of people, but rather than asking the question, state what you know is the wrong answer. “I think the way it works is Foo, right Bob?” You’ll be amazed at how quickly someone will take the time to correct you, particularly if the question was aimed at more than one person, since it’s an opportunity for that person to prove their knowledge in front of others (which is just human nature).
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Of course, it’s not without consequences… you need to have a thick skin (or be willing to grow one), and be willing to live with the consequences should you use this trick so frequently that others start to think you don’t know what you’re talking about.
[Updated later in the day to correct a stupid typo]