Don’t Just Guess, Ask Good Questions!
In growth, we are always fighting against constraints, but this week’s Good Question! can help you and your team take on those constraints head-on. “What is the limiting factor,” is a question that helps identify what is in your way, and what you need to do to win.
Aaron Foss, the founder of Nomorobo, a spam call protection service, shared this question with Ethan Garr. He says it is one of the tools that has helped him build a successful business while keeping his team lean.
When you understand your biggest limitations it can help you identify the biggest risks that you need to address as you approach projects and experiments. It also helps you figure out the order of operations to overcome those risks. And finally, it forces you to challenge your assumptions.
So if you are looking to improve your decision-making processes, teach your team to challenge each other with this Good Question! What is the limiting factor?
Good Question! episodes are less than 4 minutes long and help you and your team improve how you approach and drive growth in your business. Feel free to share them on your Slack channels.
All right. Hey, there everyone. It’s Ethan Garr, and it’s time for Good Question! 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 is the limiting factor?
Aaron Foss, the founder of Nomorobo shared this one with me. As you may know, I co-invented the mobile app, Robokiller, which stops spam calls. Nomorobo is a competitor in that space, and what always struck me was that even with a pretty small team, Aaron successfully grew his company into a bit of a household name.
When I asked him how he continues to grow his business today while keeping things lean. He said,
“I always like to ask the question, what is the limiting factor?” That got me curious. So let’s dig into what I discovered and why this question can be valuable for you and your team. Problem-solving is a big part of what we do.
Growth doesn’t come easy. It comes to those who consistently work to overcome challenges. We’re constantly asked to make decisions. So part of our job is optimizing how we make those decisions. For problem-solvers like us, “What is the limiting factors?” is a good question to ask because it frames all of those decisions in the context of what is the biggest constraint we have to overcome.
If we’re trying to expand our paid marketing campaigns, but know we have significant data collection limitations that’s going to help us consider everything from, should we even pursue that path to, if we’re going to pursue it, what do we have to overcome, and in what order do we need to solve problems?
So essentially it’s a forcing function: If we’re going to do this, we have to deal with this limitation. What’s the order of operations we need to consider so that we can be successful? Ultimately every project experiment or effort is going to be constrained in some way by budget time or resources. Being very open about the biggest limitation you face sets up the right conversations to overcome those constraints.
So ask this question so that everyone on your team can see, understand and assess the risks you’re facing. It helps build a culture where everyone works together to ensure that those risks are well managed. Ask this question, so you can accurately lay out a path forward. What is the critical path to achieving the goal And where does this limitation have the most potential to derail us? How do we mitigate this limitation? What options are available to us as we look to solve the problem? And finally ask this question to keep challenging assumptions.
We don’t know what will prove valuable. So what’s the framework that helps us make the best decisions to unlock that value. As I dug in with Aaron further, I asked him if he ever worried that this question might invite an overly pessimistic view of opportunities for him and his team. He said, “No.” Actually, he finds that it encourages optimism.
You can’t hide from problems. So getting in the habit of asking what is the limiting factor can help teams really see the path forward. He says, “Identifying what’s in your way, shows you how you’re going to get to your destination.”
And yes, Aaron’s quite a character, that is him in that Zoltar fortune-teller, Halloween costume.
On some level, most teams are probably considering versions of this question as they think about their decisions every day. But as I’ve started being more overt with it, working with companies, I’m seeing its value more and more. It helps growth teams think more consistently as they prioritize experiments. And it does help draw out the biggest obstacles on the journey from where you are today to where you’re trying to go tomorrow. And finally, by honestly assessing what’s in our way, we start to see where we have to put the big, and sometimes difficult efforts, to unlock our biggest growth opportunities for the future.
Well, look, we like to keep these things short and that is all the time we’ve got. So thanks everyone for tuning in. I am Ethan Garr, and I’ll be back again next week with another episode of Good Question! I hope you’ve enjoyed it. And if you did, please follow me and Sean Ellis on LinkedIn and on BreakoutGrowth.net. We love sharing actionable insights to help you and your team accelerate growth. I’ll see you next week.
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