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Don't Explain Too Much Expand / Collapse
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Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:05 AM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Don't Explain Too Much






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Post #1390306
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 1:10 AM
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Nice article Steve. I simply couldn't agree more with this. Managers should have faith in their staff and trust that they know what they're doing.

I have sometimes found that if managers spent more time managing, and less time trying to understand the technical details of *everything* then team morale would be better.

Thankfully these days i'm in a place where this isn't a problem.




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Post #1390329
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 1:46 AM


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I would slightly alter that to

Have clear lines of responsibilty and let the best people have full control of their areas. That means at some point management or anyone else relinquishes decisions on certain aspects to those that know.

This tends to happen naturally in small organisations but gets worse as the organisation increases in size.
Post #1390344
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:35 AM
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I certainly agree with your point. Managers who insist on making technical decisions better left to developers are a real problem and even more so in larger organizations.
As a consultant to large government and financial organizations, I run across this very often. I usually respond with a detailed and written technical explanation of what the industry standard best practices are and why they are applicable to the client's specific circumstances. With a smaller client, that is often enough to change their minds. With a large organization, sometimes you just have to do it their way and wait for it to fail. When that happens, you have already documented that you know what the problem is and how to fix it. And if it doesn't fail, then at the very least you have strengthened your image as a "team player". And on rare occasions, you will find that the client was actually correct for their particular situation.

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Post #1390454
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:18 AM
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Based on my experience I'm not sure that I agree with the, "managers shouldn't know," part of this. I fully agree that they shouldn't be the decision makers on topics like this but if they want assurances and details as to what's being done I don't think that's a bad thing. If someone asks me how they can know that I can recover data to within 10 minutes in the case of an outage I have no problem explaining the basics of transaction log restores, where we store them, and what alerting we use so we know if they fail. However, if they then turn around and say that it's too complicated and that I need to change it then we'll have a problem. They need to accept that they're getting the basics that a manager needs to know what's happening and that knowing how to pull it off is the job of the DBA team.
Post #1390490
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:19 AM
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I agree that the managers don't need the technical details, but a discussion of what options are available and what is most appropriate for the situation is critical. Too often I see IT folks just assume the implementation they did for project X applies for project Y and the business has no idea how their system was implemented. If you don't explain the options with the costs and benefits then they tend not to realize they're even making a choice. Usually when I see people talking very technical, it's because they don't really understand what they're doing so they try to intimidate others so they stop asking questions. This leads to poor communication and a general mess.
Post #1390492
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:56 AM
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brian.francis (11/29/2012)
I agree that the managers don't need the technical details, but a discussion of what options are available and what is most appropriate for the situation is critical. Too often I see IT folks just assume the implementation they did for project X applies for project Y and the business has no idea how their system was implemented. If you don't explain the options with the costs and benefits then they tend not to realize they're even making a choice. Usually when I see people talking very technical, it's because they don't really understand what they're doing so they try to intimidate others so they stop asking questions. This leads to poor communication and a general mess.


Totally agree - customers/managers need to have some information in order to feel confident in the solution you are providing. I find that people who do understand what they're doing are also able to speak in simple language (aka non-technical) to help the others understand.
Post #1390511
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:18 AM
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I am not sure I agree about explaining. This assumes that managers have no technical abilities and couldn't really understand the explanation. This also assumes that every developer is going to use best practices.

If I am a manager and we have a situation where we need to restore data from a back up and my developer can't do this in a timely manner or forbid can't actually do it at all, then my head will be on the chopping block, not just my developers. So I want to be darn sure I trust them with something as critical as backups, and that means I want to understand the decisions they are making and why they are making them.
Post #1390530
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:22 AM


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I also agree Dizzy and krowley. There are ways to communicate/explain this to a manager without getting too technical and still get the basic point across. However, after explaining in layman's terms (using the backup/restore scenario as an example), they still don't understand the concept of what I am talking about (some are just clueless), then they should go sell flowers for a living. They should not be managing an IT shop. That said, I also should not have to explain what VLF's are to them to get my point across of how much of the data i can get back for them. Its all how you communicate it that makes all the difference. Always try to know your audience at any given time. This is not rocket science people..

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Post #1390532
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:55 AM
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TravisDBA (11/29/2012)
I also agree Dizzy and krowley. There are ways to communicate/explain this to a manager without getting too technical and still get the basic point across. However, after explaining in layman's terms (using the backup/restore scenario as an example), they still don't understand the concept of what I am talking about (some are just clueless), then they should go sell flowers for a living. They should not be managing an IT shop. That said, I also should not have to explain what VLF's are to them to get my point across of how much of the data i can get back for them. Its all how you communicate it that makes all the difference. Always try to know your audience at any given time. This is not rocket science people..


Unless you are doing IT for a rocket company. Then it is rocket science.
Post #1390562
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