The Art of asking - WHAT THE QUACK???

July 28 | 05 min read


“Ask a question that makes your Leadership uncomfortable”. These were the very first words Sridar said and suddenly there was complete silence all around.”

A few months back, I saw some photos, newsletters, and articles shared with Mobisy – all,  in addition to a message that I personally received, mentioning I have been nominated for Batch 2 of the 10Xer Program. The realization that someone actually noticed my potential, understood my value, and knows about my accomplishments and achievements was an exhilarating feeling by itself. I felt seen.

As I set foot on the path, the first hurdle was to do a set of tasks to actually earn my seat. The nomination was only a window into the most exclusive club at Bizom. From there began my journey –

Jumping ahead to a few weeks later, the 1st 10Xer Offsite for Batch 2 was set to happen. Upon settling down, the first bomb dropped – Ask uncomfortable questions. The bombs didn’t stop there. In addition to thinking (‘early in the morning’), the catch was that the questions shouldn’t be silly or mild and must make the leadership team a teensy bit squirmy and uncomfortable aiming for a rating of at least 7 out of 10 on the discomfort scale! This was quite a jaw-dropping moment for me.

As we nervously approached Lalit, Shree, Krishna, and Shalaka with our questions, we quickly realized it wasn’t as simple as it seemed. We had to repeat our questions until we hit the mark. The trick was to ask open-ended questions that encouraged them to share their perspectives, thoughts, challenges, and emotions. The goal wasn’t to corner them but to truly understand where they were coming from. With every in-coming response from the leaders, each of us started empathizing with the leader’s intent, appreciating their vulnerabilities that it took to express and their challenges.

This experience opened my eyes to the power of asking the right questions, especially in a transparent environment like Bizom. I had never fully utilized this skill before. Whenever I felt frustrated in the past, I now realize that all I needed to do was ask the right questions at the right time. It would have brought clarity and helped me become a part of the solution instead of disengaging. This along with our insightful “Walk by the Lake” sessions (ask any 10Xer about this 🙂), gave me a fresh perspective on what I can control and how I can use communication, empathy, and openness to better understand others’ intentions and collaborate more effectively.

Recently, I encountered a restructuring plan for Bizom iOS migration (something we’ve attempted in the past too) at engineering, and I had doubts and questions about its necessity and effectiveness. This time, I approached the doubts differently, asking the right questions with an open mind. I wanted to understand why we need a restructuring plan and how this is different from the previous one to ensure quality and delivery. I tried asking these questions to those involved, so I could look at this from multiple angles. Though my first attempt wasn’t successful, it taught me the importance of considering the timing and emotional state of the person I’m discussing with (a different story and lesson for another day 😀)

However, my second discussion was more fruitful, and I got more clarity on what the plan is and also  found answers to my doubts. I tried asking questions that began with why are we attempting another restructuring in the team? How did we misjudge this the last time? What am I going to do next if this project shuts down? What about others, etc.  I even went on to give suggestions on how we can ensure that quality always remains the highest priority throughout the project lifecycle. One by one, my blockers on this migration project and moving forward got much clearer and started giving me a sense of relief.

In conclusion, I want to re-emphasise that the skill of asking the right questions is essential for every engineer, regardless of whether they are a leader or not. Embracing simple openness to listen, learn, and understand, without doubting others’ intentions, goes a long way in collaboration and driving change.

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