One day as you’re driving into work, you notice a tapping sound coming from the car. “Bugger, the clutch is gone” you think to yourself. You arrive at the garage and tell the mechanic that the clutch is gone. Without saying a word, the mechanic replaces the clutch kit to the tune of £800. You pay the bill and go.
5 Miles down the road you hear that tapping again. Instead you head to another mechanic. As you arrive, he asks “What’s the problem?” You explain that the car is making some strange noises, and you’re certain it’s now the back axle “Are you sure it’s the axle?” asks the Mechanic, but you insist you need to get another axle. “Sure thing.” Another £800 goes and you go on your way.
Another 5 miles down the road, you hear that tapping sound again. You stop in at another garage. The mechanic asks you some questions about the car.
- “How old is your car?”
- “When did you receive your last service?”
- “Could you describe the tapping sound?”
- “How far into the journey do you hear this sound?”
- “Does this happen when you’re driving over 30mph?”
- “What area of the car is the sound coming from?”
After these questions, the mechanic suggests that it might be a loose bolt on the engine.
£20 later, The mechanic has replaced the bolt and the tapping sound is no longer!
You drive off into the sunset happy with your tap free car.
In this example, you can see how the power of questioning can completely change the direction of a project. In this case simple questions could of saved you £1600, but in our working worlds the costs can often be much higher.
As designers we have the responsibility to guide the client to the result they need. More often than not, this may not be what they actually ask for, but it certainly can save them both time and money.
Our armoury should include well honed questioning and research skills to ensure that we can push projects through without the need for costly changes.
When the client comes back to us with an unhappy experience, it’s a failure of communication on our part. Fortunately it’s something we can fix!