Using your critical eye to see something positive

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Today we have a guest editorial as Steve is at SQL in the City

I think a lot of us working in the database field have an ability to look at and think about problems in a logical systematic way. This is very helpful in identifying problems and issues. We try to think through each issue and see all the possible ways things could go wrong. We might be more vocal when new ideas are presented, speaking up as to why those new ideas won’t work. Sometimes we fall a little short in using our critical nature to see positive things and imagine how things could work.

I don’t love generalizations, but sometimes DBA’s can be generalized as people who say, “No” a lot. Of course, when you have been given the task to keep a production system up and running, changes to the database could put system uptime in jeopardy. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to protect production systems from bad ideas or changes. It is right and helpful to point out flaws or problems with new systems or changes to the production database. The issue I see is when the only thing the database professional offers is negative feedback.

It makes me wonder if the pressure to keep production systems up and running and being blamed for issues that have nothing to do with the database may cause DBA’s to become more negative in their thinking? It seems like a DBA is in the position where people are always asking something of them, yet often not giving anything in return. Sometimes not even a thank you or a job well done.

I think the challenge for us database professionals is to continue to see the holes and problems with system and projects, but to also spend some time and effort recognizing positive things as well. I am not suggesting we should lie or sugar coat anything, just spend a little more time trying to see something positive. I am guessing it is there, just waiting to be discovered and noticed.

It is important to be part of the solution when problems or issues arise. To do this we must see past all the negative issues of why something will fail, to the positive aspects (assuming there are some) and potential solutions to the known issues. If we can see more of the positive side of things and be a more active part in finding a solution, I believe the generalization of the DBA always saying, “No” will begin to be seen in a new light. A light that says, “No, but here is a better solution.”

Share a time you were able turn a bad situation into a positive solution.

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