Finite Options and Providing Reasoning
This has been a hectic, cognitively demanding week for us all here at Deep Core Data. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have had a lot of practice drawing information out of people who are under a lot of cognitive demand and have extraordinarily little mental bandwidth. Today I want to talk about a couple of strategies for successfully getting guidance from busy subject matter experts: finite options and supplying reasoning.
By “finite options,” I mean a completely open-ended request like “What should I do now?” or “Please advise” is much more mentally demanding than something that suggests responses. These include “Should I push the blue button or the red button?” or “Unless you have a better suggestion, I’m going to reboot this machine tonight after the end of the business day.”
It is easier for an expert to figure out if options are correct or not if you present a finite list of your options to that expert, even if none of your options are right. It is harder to come up with good options from a vague request like “Please suggest the next steps.”
By “supplying reasoning,” I mean that it is often incredibly helpful to let the person you’re asking for guidance know why you think your proposed options are reasonable. “We need you to fix this widget” doesn’t provide as much detail about what we’re trying to do as “It looks like reports aren’t being generated because this widget is slow and unresponsive. Please let us know how to fix the widget or otherwise improve report generation.” In technical contexts, supplying more detail about what’s happening and how you think it should be fixed is tremendously helpful to more experienced colleagues, and helps them appropriately level set and think through how you’re thinking about the problem.
If you’re struggling with resolving technical issues in a prompt fashion, reach out to us today. We have extensive combined experience coordinating to resolve them, and smoothly escalating problems to upstream experts where necessary.
Leave A Comment