Yesterday I said that communicating a strategy without including the actual challenge being targeted is like asking, "What's for dinner?" and the answer is, "Lasagna. And it has to be ready by 6pm sharp."

But... why?

Articulating the why is part of diagnosing the problem at hand – and will usually involve asking LOTS of questions.

Here's why it's lasagna night:

Because Carla is coming to visit and she freaking LOVES my lasagna. But I also want to make sure I get it done on time before kids go to bed.

Now you perk up, and your brain goes into problem-solving mode. This is opening up the conversation to other possibilities:

Couldn't we go to the store and get a frozen one?

BUT WAIT. Hold yourself from solutioning just yet...

Ask more exploratory questions. Dive deeper to uncover hidden information or constraints:

Doesn't she also love your apple pie?
Do we even have tomatoes?

The problem is a cube sitting on the table and you need to pick it up and look at it from all angles, to see what's hidden from your perspective.

Let's add a possible "why" to the documentation strategy answer, for example:

"We just released a new major version that adds 4 new features and those aren't yet covered in our docs, so we are planning to cover them by Q1 next year."

Now you can begin looking at the problem from different angles:

Why wasn't documentation part of the definition of done for each feature?
What is going into the Q1 deadline? What will happen if it goes beyond?
Who is "we"? The engineering team? The developer advocates?

Asking exploratory questions is what leads to a better diagnosis. It takes into account the whole problem domain and identifies hidden assumptions or constraints and makes them visible. They may not be known to everyone and so they can now be articulated (and recorded). And it almost always needs to involve cross-functional participation.

A good diagnosis clearly articulates the scope of the problem.

If you don't explore why buyers or developers are having trouble learning about your product, you may not understand the full scope of the problem you're dealing with (or how to solve it).

Have a lovely day,

Articulating a problem lets you explore its domain to create a better strategy

Want devs to love your product?

Hi 👋 I'm Kamran. I'm a consulting developer educator who can help your DevRel team increase adoption with better docs, samples, and courseware.
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