Questions, questions

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I took home two great thoughts from the Kaggle competition guys at Strata last week:

  • It’s usually not the smartest people who win – it’s the ones who keep going
  • If you want to run a competition, the hardest part is usually formulating a good question.

I’m only two weeks into the day job (one of which was away at conference), but I really needed to hear that already – there’s a ton of work to be done, and it can all look terrifically difficult and daunting when you look at it all at once.  Except Strata helped there too – all the big things that I was trying to understand on my own turned out to be big questions that a whole industry was trying to answer.

So this week I’m going to relax a little and think hard about questions.  I taught our innovators to always start with “what is the problem that we’re trying to solve here”, and now it’s time to start listening to my own (and others’) advice again. “What is the problem”, “is there value in us solving it”, “what is the environment”, “what do we need to change”, “what do we need to build”, in roughly that order.