The process of exploring a data file handed to you without any form of guidance except for a nebulous statement about what you are supposed to do with it - no record layout, no data map, no indication of which columns are relevant to the task at hand. The completeness of the task specification follows the inverse specificity law - the more complex the data and the important the task the less information you are given.
Theary: Hey Bernie. could you extract the customers' discount rates from this file? It's XML so you should just be able to read it off.
Bernie: Sure thing, it it will take some serious data orienteering.
Theary: Okay, I'll let the client know.
A natural law that dictates that the depth and accuracy of your task description is inversely proportional to the importance of the task. You will be given a ten-page written specification on preparing an invitation for five customers to come to morning coffee, a tax audit report will be requested in an email consisting of a single paragraph, while a request to revise the organization's entire cost structure will be delivered verbally in a single sentence.
CEO: Bernie, our database manager left and we need a report of all customers who bought semi-spleeted widgets in the northwest region since the beginning of the month. There's a potentially fatal fault and we need to do a product recall.
Bernie: Sure, right away! What's the product code for semi-spleeted widgets, and what's the region code?
CEO: Dunno. The database manager left. But it's all in the database. Just do it.
Bernie: Hmmm... the inverse specificity law indicates that this task must be critically important!