Using Clarifying Questions to Develop Project Ideas

Projects take place in all sorts of environments. There are the projects that people tackle around the home, such as painting the garage or redecorating a room. At work, projects may include reorganizing an operations floor or setting up a new process for getting customer invoices out the door more quickly. Regardless of the nature of the project ideas, it is important to ask three simple questions if you really want to keep focused and obtain results.

The first question you should always ask has to do with the outcome of your efforts. What is the ultimate goal of your project idea? Be as specific as possible with your answer. Perhaps the ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of time it takes to generate a customer invoice from one minute to thirty seconds. Knowing that is the core of your project idea makes it easier to stay on target and not get distracted by other issues that are looming around the edges of the goal.

Identifying the resources you have in hand to achieve the goal is your second consideration. Ask yourself what you already have on hand that will help you achieve your ultimate goal. Using the example of reducing the generation time on invoices, you may realize that the Information Systems department can evaluate the current database and tweak the code so that the more repetitious billing items can fulfill on the template, rather than being manually entered each time. Knowing what you have and how it can be used effectively will move you forward significantly.

Your third question has to do with identifying what resources you may need to acquire before you can move forward with completion of the project idea. It may be that your IS department has already tweaked the billing software as much as possible. If that is the case, you may need to begin searching for new software that is more feature-rich and will allow you to shave time off the overall billing process. By asking what you already have and what you may need, you move yourself closer toward achieving your ultimate goal.

This same process is usable at home. Knowing what you want to happen, what resources you have in hand, and what you need to purchase or acquire in order to achieve your goal is applicable to anything from installing a light switch to remodeling the kitchen. Ask yourself these three basic questions and the answers will have you well on your way.