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What senior management? what team? is there? pray, how did you know about that?

When the only tool you're familiar with is X, all problems look like Y. :-)

this is not a general consultancy site

I don't have a problem with people answering at different levels of abstraction.

Date: 06 Sep 2000 07:59:58 -0700
From: (Randal L. Schwartz)
Subject: The XY problem (was Re: controlling Back & Reload)
Message-Id: <>

It's important for me as a person who's been on the listening end of questions for many years, and who has to listen professionally (and most of the time answer professionally) to realize that all problems are pieces of solutions to larger problems. (Think about it a second, and you'll see that its necessarily so, all the way back to "why the heck did I get out of bed today?", if not higher.) So, to answer question Y, without understanding larger problem (the context) X, will most likely *not* help them entirely with X. I actually consider that a bit irresponsible.

How it shows up in the chatrooms (or even live, but rarer) is that someone will say "how do I do Y?". I usually take a deep breath before answering, and try to understand who a person would have to be to *ask* about Y, and make sure that I know enough about all possible X's to verify that an answer is invariant (doesn't depend) on those. Often, my spider sense will tingle, and I start asking the context questions, but at the same time, I see a lot of other people answering the Y question literally. More often than not, they have presumed too much, and it sends the person off with premature answer that really doesn't help solve X or Y entirely.

So, the key is to listen, and try to crawl inside the head of the requestor to see why they would even have that question. It helps to be appropriate. When I'm doing it live while teaching, it also keeps me on my toes, as I have to do this in a way that respects the questioner *and* still keeps the rest of the classroom interested. Fun, and challenging at the same time. It's one of the parts of teaching that I most enjoy.

I reckon we are the only monastery ever to have a dungeon stuffed with 16,000 zombies.

In reply to Re^3: Can Perl do anything Java can do? by jdporter
in thread Can Perl do anything Java can do? by MikeBraga

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