Why ask Why: 3 Tips for Getting Better Answers

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In one of glassCanopy’s recent staff meetings, we had a discussion about how we can improve the quality of our work product. We were reminded of a very smart and talented former colleague who never stopped asking “Why?”

Roan is now cofounder of an awesome startup of her own, but luckily, after ten years of working with her, asking “why?” has become ingrained in our company culture.

It’s very easy to just do “what we’ve always done”, mirror whatever the competition is doing, or if you’re a contrarian, to automatically do the opposite of what the competition is doing or what has always been done. But glassCanopy’s approach is more nuanced than that.

We want to develop creative that make sense in the context of our clients’ overall brand mission. We do this by asking questions. A lot of them. Starting with why.

There is an art to asking why. Here are three tips:

1. Ask why. Then ask again.

Getting to the core of why something is important usually takes a bit of a drill down. Even if you think you already know the answer, continue to ask follow-up questions. The more you ask why, the stronger the answers become. And the resulting creative is always stronger and more on-brand.

2. Repeat answers back.

If the responses you’re getting are unclear or complicated, restating the answers in your own words can be a good way to get confirmation or provoke clarification with extra detail.

3. Walk the line.

Don’t be afraid to ask why, but keep in mind that how you ask matters. Questions that convey a true sense of curiosity are less likely to raise defenses or feelings of being judged, allowing you to peel back the onion without any tears.

Of course, a good agency partnership is a two-way street, so we encourage our clients to continually ask us “why?” as well. It’s never a waste of time.

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