And into the meeting room comes a noise maker. He asks you when you can have (insert any new feature / product that you have never heard anyone mention before) ready. So you reply, as always, with the patience of a zen monk on valium:
“It depends”, you say, as you have said so often before. Wishing that the noise maker would learn that if you ask crap questions, you will receive crap answers.
And the noise maker lets out a sigh, that I assume is meant to say “Jeez, why can’t I ever get a straight answer out of these guys”. And you die a little inside every time this happens.
Now, I have thought up a response. In the future I will answer any question of this nature as follows:
– I will be happy to answer your question, but first, let me ask you a question: I need you to build me a boat, how long does that take?
Maybe this person will recognize that he or she is being led into a trap, and maybe this person will say:
– It depends, what kind of boat do you want? How many people will help me build it? Are the people helping me any good?
Perhaps then, the coin will drop. If so, repeat the boat metaphor each time until it sinks in. Pun intended.
Now, maybe this person will be cheeky and actually reply. Game on.
– A boat? Two months.
– OK, now let’s pretend that two months has gone by. Describe the boat you have built for me, if you would be so kind.
– It’s a small sailing boat made out of wood.
– Oh, well I need a boat that can transport approximately 1500 people a month between X and Y.
– Now, how much time do you need to build me that boat?
– One year.
– OK, now let’s pretend that one year has gone by. Describe for me the boat you’ve built, if you would.
– It’s a huge cruise ship.
– Oh, well I need a boat that can travel under water.
– How much time do you need to build that boat?
– Another year.
– OK, let’s pretend another year has gone by, please describe the boat you’ve built.
– It’s a submarine.
– Excellent! Now, how much time has gone by since my first question?
– Two years and two months.
– Quite. If my first question had been: when can you have a submarine that can transport 1500 people between X and Y ready – how long would it have taken me to get my boat?
– A year.
– Quite. So I guess it would have saved us all a lot of time if I knew what the f**k I was asking for in the first place?
– Indeed. Now go play in the corner and let the grown ups talk or I swear to god I’ll hit you harder than a bottle of whisky at an Irish wake.
Maybe I’ll leave out that last part about hitting. It depends.