Don’t Just Guess, Ask Good Questions!

If you are trying to build a growth culture, “What do we know to be true?” is a great question you and your team should make a habit of asking each other. In this episode of Good Question! I’ll explain why asking it improves decision-making, how it helps your team validate learnings, and why it works to ensure emotions are kept in check.

It’s a question I discovered working with my co-host of The Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis. He often challenges me with it to make sure I am not presenting opinions as facts. It turns out that is an easy mistake to make when you are passionate about ideas.

So we’ll discuss why teams should get in the habit of asking this question and when it can really make an impact. It just might help you avoid some costly mistakes and it is especially valuable when you have strong voices in a room.

So jump in. Good Question! episodes are less than 4 minutes long and are here to help you and your team improve how you approach and drive growth in your business. Feel free to share them on your Slack channels.

Follow Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr on LinkedIn for more actionable insights to help you accelerate growth.



Ethan Garr: All right. Hey there everyone. It’s Ethan, Gar, and it’s time for good questions. Great growth teams ask the right questions to challenge and inspire each other all of the time. So each week I’m going to share one good question to help you and your team improve how you approach and drive growth in your business. So let’s jump right into it. This week’s Good Question is what do we know to be true? 


Now, what do we know to be true is a question that my co-host of the Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis often will challenge me with. Over the years, Sean and I have had the opportunity to work together to help many teams that were looking to accelerate their growth. And I noticed this pattern was developing. I would get super excited about an idea. And I would start saying things like, “Sean users love when we show them this feature or this option.” And then Sean would back up and he would say, “Hey Ethan, wait a second. Is that a guess? Or is it a fact? What do we know to be true?”


Over time. What I’ve realized is that this is a great question for growth teams to challenge each other with all of the time, because it forces us to challenge our assumptions. So ask this question when you’re looking to tackle the biggest obstacles facing your business, or when you’re trying to prioritize what growth lever to focus on next.  Next time you’re considering an experiment, ask it to make sure everybody’s on the same level. It’s a great way to make sure that you’re basing decisions on facts and research rather than just on guesses. And it’s especially important to ask this question when there’s a really loud voice in the room. Sometimes the CEO of your company is the one who’s super passionate about something. And that’s great, but just because she’s voicing something with excitement really loudly doesn’t mean it’s based on data.


So why ask this question? Because it’s going to force teams to support their growth strategies and ideas with research and analysis, whether that’s qualitative or quantitative or some combination of both. And ask this question because it helps everyone get on the same page to make sure that you’re using facts to make good decisions as you’re validating learnings. It’s really a powerful way to ensure that you’re analysis is focusing on actual impact and not assumed impact. And again, it’s a question to ask to help keep your emotions in check when you ask each other, what do we know to be true? It makes sure that people who are really passionate and enthusiastic about their ideas are also backing up those ideas with data and recent research. And of course, we want people to bring opinions and passion into growth, but making sure that that’s counterbalanced with a really solid foundation of truth is equally as important. 


All right, I once built a business based on guesses, I closed it based on facts. Now I wish that was somebody else’s quote, but now it’s actually mine. Years ago, I built a do-it-yourself, public woodshop business, and I made a lot of assumptions in the process. I figured because I saw tremendous enthusiasm for do-it-yourself, programming on TV, and a lot of interest in woodworking around me that, that would translate into enthusiasm for this business idea. And I didn’t do enough to validate those assumptions. And in hindsight, I wish I had, I wish I had asked that question: What do we know to be true? 


So look, this question can help your growth team win. It’s a great way to start conversations and to trigger those awesome discussions around data and ideas. And it’s a way to make sure that as we are testing and validating ideas, that the team is inspired to think about the challenges around them holistically. 


And again, it’s gonna help prevent mistakes. Ultimately growth is about building a culture of excellence, where everybody is aligned towards the north star. And this is a really good question to help drive that alignment. 


Well, look, we like to keep these things short and that’s all the time we’ve got. So thanks everyone for tuning in. I am Ethan Gar, and I’ll be back again next week with another episode of Good Question! Hope you’ve enjoyed it. And if you did, please follow me on LinkedIn. I love sharing actionable insights to help you and your team accelerate growth. See you next week!

The State of Growth Survey 2022