My week of questions
This week I was inspired by a squabble I had with my wife over the question: ‘what’s for dinner?’. This question alongside ‘what’s for lunch?’ is a constant bug bear in our new work from home situation. So, in the first instance, I wanted proof that she asked these questions on a consistent basis. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to track what questions I ask and are asked of me during my work day, the response time, the type of questions, and whether these questions are resolved or not. Question patterns or topics could help inform and improve organisational processes and work practices, as well as help my own understanding of my own processes, my working relationships, and assist with project planning.
I separated the data in the visualisation, with non-work related questions on one side and work related questions on the other. The visualisation is read from left to right at the bottom, all you have to do is flip it depending on whether you want to view the work related or non-work related data. I recorded whether questions were a direct follow-up to a previous question or were in part related to that topic. I represented this relationship between the questions by grouping them together in a horizontal line.
On a personal level, I was able to prove the frequency and the originator of the ‘what’s for…’ question, which helped settle a longstanding debate. Also, I was happy to see that the response time for these non-work related questions was usually quick and the questions were usually resolved, with very few loose ends remaining. The work related questions showed a wide range of interactions, across multiple teams and organisations with varied response times, resolution, and topics. There were longer response times, more loose ends, diversions, and question follow-up.
Reflecting on the wider governance theme, this data illustrates opportunities for policy and procedural improvements, training opportunities, as well as providing an overview of the level of cross-functional collaboration that is occurring in my organisation. For example, questions in relation to the tendering process for a project resulted in a number of interactions between different people, long response times, diverted questions, and a lack of resolution. There is no clear process in place at the moment in relation to drafting and publishing tenders. The visualisation demonstrates the impact this lack of clarity can have on people’s time and project timelines as well as on the work itself. It also demonstrates how data can therefore drive positive organisational change.
Regardless of these positive outcomes, I would however be reticent to share this type of interaction and activity, in particular at an internal level within my organisation. Time is at a premium and often our best work pivots from ad hoc questions and discussions. In isolation and without context, however, I could see that management may question the value of some interactions, potentially question our ability and performance and subsequently attempt to interfere with our autonomy over our own project and time management.