Finding the Answer

For some reason, I’m expected to know things. The truth is that I don’t know that much – but I am usually good at finding answers. I owe all of my success to a Methods of Research course I took in graduate school. The typical homework for the week included 12 hours in the library (pre-internet) tracking down bits of obscure information. It was here I learned that examining the bibliography of one text would lead you to another, then a footnote in that text would lead you to the one with the information you were after. It was in this class that I developed a passion for not only finding an answer, but for finding the best answer.

Still, in most cases, finding the best answer isn’t that hard. Among the answers I’m somehow expected  to provide, at least once a week, I’ll get a request for information on a particular internal technology. Someone will usually ask:

I have heard something about supercool. Do you know where I can find more information?

At MS, most people know the super secret research trick I use to find the answer. Half the time, you can find everything you want to know about supercool at…wait for it… http://supercool.  Sometimes, it’s more difficult (we have some web hierarchies in place), and you may have to try http://portalname/sites/supercool. 9 times out of 10 that works. If all else fails, I open up the global address book, search on supercool and see if they have a discussion list. In the 1% of cases where all of that fails, I’ll see if I can find someone I know who works on the team to ask (this happens once a year or less – usually they’ll tell me  that all of their stuff is accessible from http://supercool – and that it’s just off line for a lab move).

Comments (1)
  1. Hi Alan,

    I know that many people prefer getting answers from experts instead of doing the research themselves (even if the research can be done using obvious methods easily and quickly). Maybe it is due to the confidence factor that comes with getting a response from an expert.

    Could you share some tips on how you find the best answer?


    Inder P Singh

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