Context-Free Questions


A context-free question helps us gain an understanding of the real problem without biasing the user 's input.

So, how do we avoid prejudicing the user's responses to our questions? We do so by asking questions about the nature of the user's problem without context for a potential solution. To address this problem, Gause and Weinberg [1989] introduced the concept of the "context-free question." Examples of such questions include the following.

  • Who is the user?

  • Who is the customer?

  • Are their needs different?

  • Where else can a solution to this problem be found?

These questions force us to listen before attempting to invent or describe a potential solution. Listening gives us a better understanding of the customer's problem and any problems behind the problem. Such problems affect our customer's motivation or behavior and must be addressed before we can deliver a successful solution.

Context-free questions also parallel the questions salespeople are taught to ask as part of a technique called "solutions selling." In solutions selling, the salesperson uses a series of questions focused on first gaining a real understanding of the customer's problem and what solutions, if any, the customer already envisions. The intent of these questions is to allow the salesperson to fully understand the customer's real problem, so that effective solutions can be suggested and weighed on their specific merits. This process can then illustrate the value of the salesperson's wares as an element of a complete solution to the customer's real problem.


Managing Software Requirements[c] A Use Case Approach
Managing Software Requirements[c] A Use Case Approach
ISBN: 032112247X
Year: 2003
Pages: 257 © 2008-2017.
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