Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Asking stupid questions

Recently, a world business radio 4 programme interviewed a couple of Icelandic women founders of a new Icelandic investment company called Audur. See Peter Day's comment here. They say that women in business are risk aware, rather than risk averse, so not afraid to ask stupid questions.

Stupid questions are what I think I'm asking sometimes when I'm talking with my research interviewees. Usually, it's a three letter acronym (TLA) that throws me, like:
  • 'MOJ' - Ministry of Justice, which is a new government department so not an acronym that I've yet often come across.
  • SRM - supplier relationship management. I've known about CRM - customer relationship management for a long time, so from the context I could work out what SRM was.
  • Framework agreements - I'd just accepted the term, but when someone talked about 'corofs' I had to stop and ask, so was that a silly question? The interviewee spelled it out for me CALL-OFFs. The accent was different from mine, and I knew too little about procurement to have recognised the term. Once I'd learnt, I looked up call-offs and learnt much more about UK government framework agreements from here and here.
But I do feel embarrased and vulnerable when I don't know something or can't hear it. I hardly dare ask because perhaps my interviewee won't share more because I'm so ignorant. But that's why I'm asking people, so I can learn.

So yes, I'm risk aware and I must keep on asking the stupid questions.

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