What do You Give to a Man in a Desert?

That is a very simple question, I’ll bet a simple, obvious answer has popped into your head.

My answer was a bottle of water, how about yours?

What was your answer?

Does he need…

  1. A camel?
  2. A map?
  3. A tent?
  4. An oasis?
  5. A fire?
  6. Some food?
  7. An oil rig?
  8. A phone?
  9. Some sun-cream?
  10. A dune buggy?

My answer was the right answer

It is clear to me that my first answer was without doubt the right answer:

A man in a desert needs a bottle of water.

It is so obviously right that it makes all the other possible answers obviously wrong.  I am in complete agreement with myself.

But what do I know?

The closest I have ever been to a desert was the beach at Great Yarmouth.  And it was raining.

So even though technically I have never actually met a man in a desert.  I have made my mind up and discounted all the other options.

Next time I’m asked an obvious question:

Before I jump to conclusions, I will try to remember to ask first.   My first answer might just be wrong.

How about yours?

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Image by mikebaird

Read another opinion


  1. Paul Hubbard says:

    Very topical given the temperatures today.

    My inner bedouin is very deeply hidden so if the poor chap has to rely on my judgement he’s in trouble !

    However, should our combined wisdom extract this poor fellow perhaps our focus should be on what failure of process resulted in him being in this situation in the first place.

    • James Lawther says:

      Maybe Paul, but then who knows, maybe he wanted to be there. I live in Nottingham, there is no accounting for taste.

      Thanks very much for your comment


  2. Hello James,

    Excellent. Yes, start with the customer, his context, and the job that he wants to get done. I learned this lesson the hard way in the early days of my consulting career. The instructor, through a role play, illustrated the lesson that you are sharing here.

    All the best

  3. Hi James,
    Maybe it’s just me or how I am thinking this morning or, the fact, that I have spent time hanging out in the desert but when you posed the question the first thing(s) that occurred to me were:
    Why is he there?
    What does he have with him?
    What does he need?
    Where is he going?


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