practical questions versus curiosities

A few years ago during an interview with a marketing executive at a medical device company, she asked me: ‘what product color sells the most? Is it green? Is it blue? What about purple?’

Using my background in data analysis I proposed how we could find out, but before I could finish she leaned toward me and whispered: “it doesn’t actually matter.”

This medical device company was notorious for bringing products to market faster than most of its competitors.


Because, among other things, the product development team spent far less time debating what color a wire should be than its competitors.

There are practical questions and curiosities with anything we do.

Practical questions are the things we need to address in order to achieve a specific result. Not answering the question will cost you.

Curiosities are the things we entertain because, as the label suggests, we’re curious. Not answering the question won’t cost you.

The ability to move quickly is a direct result of being able to spot the difference between the two in our roadmaps, meetings, and task lists.



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William Liao

William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (