I don’t know about you but every time I hear someone ask a cluster question it drives me nuts.
What is a cluster question you ask?
You know, it’s that preamble of pontification that people seem to throw out when they’ve got nothing.
For a good example of cluster questions you need look no further than a presidential briefing.
They’re full of cluster questions.
A cluster question typically goes something like so…
Mr. President, given the current environment of so and so, how do you feel about item 1? What is your position on item 2? Can you comment on item 3? Oh and by the way the other day I heard you say that so and so, is that true?
And then just like any President current or past, little to none of the question is even answered.
It drives me nuts.
Which brings me to the business world.
In a business environment cluster questions typically rear their ugly heads in meetings.
Either at the beginning of the meeting when someone unloads a ridiculous amount of unrelated crap questions like…
Could you explain to me what your company does, what are your goals, are there any apps you prefer and oh yeah, what’s your opinion on so-and-so topic?
Or, cluster questions will show up in the middle of a meeting when some poor fool gets hit with one.
Questions for the sake of questions add nothing to a conversation.
They get you nowhere.
I’m sure it’s just some nervous way of breaking the ice or thinking out loud.
But most of the time it’s just because people don’t really know what they want.
They don’t know how to get there.
And so arises the cluster question.
The cluster question is one of the worst ways to try to get to where you’re going.
Wouldn’t it be better to just take a minute and prepare an appropriate set of questions you’re looking to have answered?
Then instead of starting a meeting with a cluster question you could do something as simple as stating the purpose of the meeting, why everyone is here and what you’d like to understand by the end of the meeting?
Yep, a general overview is way better than starting a meeting with a cluster question.
Plus, cluster questions leave everybody confused not knowing what the heck the other person wants.
Meetings and conversations become black holes that end up nowhere.
It’s a mind numbing experience.
Simplify the conversation.
Simplify your conversations.
Know what you want.
Get to the point.
We’ll all be the better for it.