Sometimes if you [receive] an answer, the question might be taken away.Old Thrashbarg, “Mostly Harmles,” by Douglas Adams
Getting the right answers is only possible when you have asked the right questions.Fortune Cookie
Shortly after I graduated university and began working a project manager came to me and asked me to give him a pressure profile at a specific location in a pipe. He was very specific about what he wanted. After about a week of work he came back and was a little irritated that I still wasn’t done and had burned nearly a week of his project’s already limited budget. I showed him what I had, but confessed that I did not think I could do much more as I had only been working with the software for a few months and also did not have a PhD in fluid dynamics. He was perplexed as to why I had done all this work as it was not what he had asked for, or at the very least, did not seem necessary for his ultimate goal. I pulled up the email he had sent me with his very specific request. After a little more discussion I managed to figure out that all he was looking for was a graph showing the pressures at the various system modes. Something infinitely easier than he had originally asked me. After another hour of work parsing the data from the original analysis I had run, he had his graph and I had learned a very important lesson:
If you’re not careful, you can get the correct answer to the wrong question.