Ask, and You Shall Receive

if not now, when?

Time is the most valuable resource we all have, yet we do not manage it like so.

A recent article on Forbes by John Baldoni pointed out the potential pitfalls of the 5-Minute Rule practiced by employees of Quintiq, in response to a previous interview by Adam Bryant of the New York Times, with Victor Allis, CEO of Quintiq. While the article brought up valid points, as with any principle, it is valuable to consider the reasons for its conception.

The 5-Minute Rule is central to the Quintiq work culture of constant learning. To put it simply, if you can’t figure out whatever you’re working on and it’s been five minutes, approach someone for help.

“He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning.” – Danish proverb.

Smart Productivity

Smart Productivity

It is common to underestimate the amount of time required to accomplish a task. However, time management is one of the things we take seriously at Quintiq – after all, we are in the business of optimization. We simply cannot afford to waste resources, and here, our greatest resource is our smart people.

At a recent team knowledge-sharing session, a colleague presented the methods he employs to manage his workload, including the famed pomodoro technique and the Getting Things Done approach. His engaging presentation remains one of the highest rated of all 16 presenters this quarter.

A bunting that stands by our office pantry carries a quote by Israeli physicist Eliyahu Goldratt that goes:


The Art of Asking

Despite our best efforts, we will sometimes get stuck, especially when deadlines loom ahead. The 5-Minute Rule offers assurance that one is never alone, and colleagues would go beyond the call of duty to help a teammate in need.

Does it encourage impatient help-seeking behavior, which in turn hinders focused creative thinking? On the contrary. Victor gives a few tips on executing the rule well:

For the person asking the question:

  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Do not ask for a particular solution that you think might be the answer
  • Be open to share more about the situation when being asked
  • Actively engage in figuring out the solution

For the person answering the question:

  • Investigate the question behind the question; why it is being directed to you?
  • Determine whether the colleague is considering you as a sounding board
  • Recognize the opportunity to interact proactively with the colleague

When this rule is invoked, magic happens. The expert guides the way, the asker experiences accelerated learning of the ropes, and both parties reach a solution in a shorter time – very likely one they would not have accomplished individually. Along the way, they might even discover a better way of doing things – which is at the very heart of optimization.

And this, nobody puts better than Isaac Newton, who once said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

Let us know what you think about the 5-minute rule in your comment below or drop us a tweet @Quintiq.

Image source: Indexed


Planet Planning


Anna Teoh.

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Anna Teoh

About Anna Teoh

As a psychology graduate, I can't help but be constantly fascinated by human behavior! Being an optimization analyst gives me an avenue to analyse user actions. With web analytics tools, I attempt to measure visitor intent, translate numbers into actionable insights, and help convert visitors into customers. In my free time, I enjoy the company of cats and books.