One of the most important lessons I learned from working for Dr. P. Michael Conn for nearly two decades was the value of pursuing a goal while being open to opportunities outside of that goal.
Dr. Conn was a scientist who performed basic (vs. clinical research) which means he looked at science on a cellular level. He studied the literature, developed hypotheses and his lab performed experiments to test these hypotheses. Every morning he met with his primary collaborator, the woman who ran his lab, to discuss the lab’s previous day’s work and what the day’s focus would be. Every day he reviewed and analyzed information.
He told me once that many of his most significant findings were discovered after such reviews when, instead of pursuing the initial premise, he’d follow the findings as they unveiled themselves during the research process.
I always think of this when I approach client work. Often the client tells me that they need a certain service, but once I talk to the team and do a little research I discover that what they need is actually something a little different. Often the solution is much easier than they would expect. Sometimes it requires more work. But if you don’t go in with an open mind and a willingness to see everything, you can easily miss the obvious.