Skip to main content

Craig Kerstiens

What problem are we trying to solve?

If you want to seem like the smartest person in the room, wait for a break in conversation, after sitting quiet for 15 minutes, and ask “What problem are we trying to solve here?" It works every time.

We’ve all been there. You walk into a meeting, there are 10 people in it. It gets rolling, different folks chiming in. A few people seem to be taking personal notes, they always do. There is the person that scheduled the meeting, but they’re not the person that usually makes decisions. It’s primarily going back and forth between 3 individuals with 7 others watching on. You’re 15 minutes in, and while there has been lively discussion already… you find yourself back on the original point from minute 1 seemingly lost 14 minutes and you’re unsure to what.

A healthier environment ideally has an agenda sent out ahead of time. Based on the agenda there is a clear structure planned for the meeting which presumably points to a clear goal. Even without an agenda an alternative structure would be a clearly stated goal in the invite. Within the meeting you SCQA-it up live. Huge bonus points if the meeting invite includes a link to the notes doc where meeting notes will be transcribed by an explicit scribe for the meeting, sent out after for folks to agree/confirm as a good record of the meeting.

As a facilitator as good as you may be, you’re still going to end up in the first situation. Every time wait 10-15 minutes, then ask the question. It seems to be more effective after you’ve had the detour vs. leading off with it in the first 1 minute. Even better internalize the question to yourself vs. just making yourself look good by asking it (which will happen).