why ask

Annemarie Atema 'Why questions are quite irritating'

Annemarie Atema 2021 02 Annemarie Atema

I think it's safe to say that everybody does it. That's just the way it works. You're excited and can totally see it. So did I. What a brilliant plan I had come up with. Really super fun. I could see it all before me and was convinced that many people would agree with me. This would really be used a lot. I was already working at NOM and asked one of my colleagues at Flinc to spar with me about my brilliant plan. He also thought it was a great plan but asked me a simple question. "What is your revenue model?" Of course I had a good answer to that, but the follow-up questions (which went a little deeper), made me think again about my great plan. Hmmmm, a little less brilliant than thought after all.

Share your plans

And so we all do. Coming up with fun plans and then forgetting to ask why-questions. Yes, just to ourselves, briefly, and we certainly have good answers. But we forget to ask why questions to someone else, preferably someone outside your own network. Someone who doesn't know you, could possibly be a customer and might tell you "Totally uninterested in your great plan" (and probably many others with him).

Keeping secrets

Hard but true. So above all, don't forget to discuss your good idea. And preferably at an early stage. That's pretty exciting. Reactions will not always be positive. But see it as constructive. You can probably use them to further improve your idea (or put it out of your mind).

The other side of the coin is that sharing also means that others might take your idea. Brain teaser perhaps, but therefore choose people you can trust. And if you want to go one step further, document your idea. Then it should be a more elaborate idea. Also, a non-disclosure agreement can sometimes be useful, so that an idea can be discussed without the other party just running off with it.

Why ask

Okay, so those why questions. To name a few: What problem are you solving with this? Do you already have customers? Are people waiting for this? Have you already contacted....? How many hours do you think you can spend on this? How will you finance it? Will you still like this in 5 years? (The attentive reader will see that a why question need not begin with why).

Don't confuse why-questions with stupid-questions. People sometimes say that stupid questions don't exist. I disagree. Stupid questions do exist. And some you should let go for that reason. Why questions are different. They are very good and keep you on your toes and on your toes, although sometimes irritating!

Why! Because!

And let's be very good at that at NOM. Ask a Nommer to ask the why questions. We are very happy to do so. After all, our goal is to stimulate economic activity in the North. By sparring together, we can assess whether your idea can contribute to this. We also have a huge network that you may be able to make use of. And the good news is that this can be done without a confidentiality agreement. Your good idea, stays your good idea! Do it!