I was buying a new power drill. Wandering down the aisle of a hardware store, a sales rep found me. ”Lookin’ for a new drill?” she asked and I replied ”Yup”. After a short pause, she smiled and continued ”What do you need it for, if I may ask?”
I answered like anybody would ”I need to drill a couple of holes into stone wall that I have at home”. She smiled again and continued pushing me ”Cool, what do you need the holes for?”
The discussion was really disarming and interesting. So I went all in.
The root reason why I needed the drill wasn’t about the holes for the wall. It turned out that I needed the holes for yet another purpose. I wanted to install new shelves.
But the shelves weren’t the outcome I was looking for either. They were only a means to an end.
I had had books laying in the corner for months and I wanted to get them organised. In the end I wanted to get myself a feeling of accomplishment and to feel that my stuff was organised. I wanted to feel that I was in control of my life.
”So that is what I need the drill for!” I laughed and she joined. She had a perfect solution for me. Bosch has this awesome product linethat all use the same 18V batteries for every tool from gardening to tinkering. I was both satisfied and happy about the simple encounter.
Later that day I sat down to think software testing. What’s the root reason why people want or need testing? If they want to find bugs, why do they want to find them?
There are several layers of ’why’ between what you first observe and what the core motives are. The only problem is that most of us don’t dare to venture that deep with other people. In fact, most people don’t dare to venture that deep with themselves either… But those who do, tend to work magic with their skills of testing.
You could experiment on this with a friend too. Start a conversation about whatever they want, expect or desire. Then ask about their ’why’ seven times.
To me, this is the distinction at the base of all value. Value is a byproduct of meeting the core needs of others. This is achieved only by being interested about the root reasons inside yourself and the people you serve.
More interest means more value.
So what if you took the same disarming attitude as the sales rep in my hardware store? What if you started to uncover the true needs of your peers and yourself?