Things aren’t always what they appear. Sometimes when researching, we let our own biases get in the way – sometimes, even knowingly. When something is too good to be true, we need to constantly ask: “what’s the bugaboo?”
You’re house-hunting and you’ve looked at 20 houses and none seem to fit. Next, one comes along and it just seems to click. It’s got just about all the amenities you want. It’s just about within the price range you want. It’s close enough to the neighborhood you want. It just clicks.
Does it really, though? Or is it your conscience telling you “stop looking, because the process is grating.” Do you overlook imperfections because the (perceived and actual) good outweighs the (actual) bad? Is it really that good? Do you ask the right questions to flesh out the answer?
It’s a challenge to know what’s behind door number three (any Monty Hall fans out there?). Because if we always knew, we’d always ask. The challenge is to assess the situation as objectively as possible from afar, and ask the question that hasn’t been asked before. What can we poke, probe, and prod at to yield new information? What can we attempt to surface to help make the decision (while ideally avoiding confirmation bias)?
This same rationale isn’t limited to house-hunting. It’s true for buying a car, looking for the next career move, deciding on a long-term mate after committing to one for a while, or picking up and moving geographically. To me, it’s anything defined by high switching-costs, high risk, high cost, and potentially an irreversible decision.
This is much easier for a low-cost (time, money, or some other metric) decision, or one that can be easily reversed or course-corrected. It’s when it’s a big decision that it becomes tough. Inherently, there are more questions. There should be more questions.
A good process can help identify a bugaboo more quickly – MECE comes to mind, though not at all perfect. A well-trained gut or intuition is great, too. But that’s more challenging to rely on, especially if it’s undeveloped.
What about you, reader? How do you flesh out topics, issues, SWOTs, even … to help identify the ‘killer app’ of a question?
image source: Monty_open_door.svg, courtesy of Wikimedia.org