CEO Blog: Are you asking the right questions?

If you ask a stupid question you’ll get a stupid answer

Anthony Robbins life coach extraordinaire in his book “Awaken the Giant Within” says that “successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers…”

Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?

I remember a hymn sung at school had the line: “Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find” I spent ages looking for a Commodore 64 everywhere I went – alas, however, to no avail.

Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

At Bowel Disease Research Foundation, we’ve been asking questions about our bowels since 1992. Our founders, surgeons from the eminent Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland have been asking them for many many years prior to this.

They felt that more needed to be done to ensure the right questions were being asked to get the best answers about how to treat bowel disease – thus BDRF was formed.

They also believed that using a model of collaboration – working together with colleagues and other disciplines – was essential to successful research.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they wanted juniors and seniors to work hand in hand so that there would always be a constant evolution (or indeed revolution) of researchers picking up the mantle and continuing on the quest to answer those questions.

These are three principles that we still live and breathe today and help to bring value to the work that we do and, most importantly, to the people that our work sets out to help.

  1. Asking the right questions
  2. Collaboration
  3. Constant development no matter what your experience

We’re all familiar with the annoying child persistence of repeating the one-word question why? why? why? Annoying that is until you have one of the little creatures of your own and then it becomes a loving “aah, isn’t that cute” kind of persistence.  Try answering a tirade of whys from a 3-year-old about the colour of a Christmas tree or why they can’t have a 3rd packet of skittles – it takes a great deal of patience but actually if you follow the logic through – a lot can be discovered and a lot can be learnt.

The principles really aren’t that different from the basis of scientific research and it’s a skill that all medical researchers can and should develop and nurture in every project they undertake.



  • Why does the bowel become inflamed in some people and not in others?

  • Why does cancer develop in some people and not in others?

  • Why do we ignore the signs of potential problems with our bowels and not seek help before it is too late?





If you are not familiar with the work of the Why Foundation and Simon Senek – I highly recommend any one of his excellent TED lectures.

Beginning with the why is the fundamental building blocks to any business, cause or organisation and we used it as one of the guiding principles in helping to revise and shape our vision as an organisation a few years ago.

The why is also the foundation to any research project and we will begin to explore this topic in more detail in future articles.


… Because it’s interesting.


…. Because people need to know how important these things are.


…..Because it helps to show that asking the right questions helps progress our understanding of a given topic – in this case bowel disease.


…..Because bowel disease is a horrible, horrible set of illnesses and conditions that you wouldn’t wish to inflict on your worst enema (ha!)


…..imagine having constant pain in your guts that doesn’t go away.. imagine being told you have 4 months to live because your tumour has spread cancer throughout your body…imagine having to have your bowels removed and replaced with a stoma…


Yes oh… that’s why.

Through research we can help understand these issues and develop better ways of treating, managing, preventing and ultimately eradicating them for good.


Oh, don’t start with that again


Ah, come on enough…


Because I need to get to the really important bit…


Because I don’t just want someone to read this and go “oh that’s interesting”


Because I want each and every person who reads this to pass it on to someone else or share on their social media channels…


So that more people start talking about their bowels and understanding how important these things are.


Oh, do shut up now.


Thank you.

Please will you help spread the word and share this on your social media channel now?