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SQL University Troubleshooting Week: Keeping an Open Mind

SQL University LogoOffice politics during a major event can be dangerous. It pays to be seen as contributing to solving the problem rather than being seen as a part of it. We may have the best intentions and know our systems inside and out but if we refuse to look into something because we are sure it is not our issue then we are going to be seen as difficult and argumentative. If it turns out we are wrong and it is our issue we could even be seen as hiding something.

I like to use the example of the rip current to explain office politics during a system outage. Unfamiliar swimmers caught in rip currents typically make the mistake of swimming against the current trying to get directly back to shore. Many get exhausted before they get back to shore and drown. Swimmers familiar with rip currents will go with the flow, swimming parallel to the shore until they are out of the current then swim back to shore.

Keeping with the rip currents example, what happens when you fight people and say it is not your issue? Do they give up and go away; leaving you to what you were working on or do they fight you harder to prove it is your issue? At times it may even seem like their goal is not prove it is your issue but prove that you are being arrogant and that it could be. Many times it becomes less about the issue at hand and more about winning an argument.

The simple truth is that it is better to go with the flow because it is faster.

An important part of going with the flow is to construct tests that prove that something is our issue. Notice how I say to prove it is our issue rather than prove it is not. The human brain is incredibly open to having tricks played on it, by constructing an affirmative test we trick our brain into trying to find a way to make the test work. We are not happy with just a single failure to recreate the issue, we need to change the test scenario and test more until we can recreate the issue or run out of test scenarios. Most importantly, we are engaged and working to understand what is really going on.

Having a good attitude is key to success in the information technology field. Keeping an open mind is central to that. By going with the flow and looking at issues from the right perspective we can solve problems faster while becoming known for our skill and professionalism.


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