(Photo credit: star5112)
Many times, the answer is staring you in the face, but when you include the panic and or stress, its too difficult to see it.
One example of that exemplified by the following short story:
On one occasion, I was doing some work at a Consulting company, managing their email servers when I got a frantic call from the CIO asking why he has not received any email for over an hour. He was livid and even questioning my expertise.
I immediately paid a visit to his office to assess the problem, even as he resumed his tirade. I simply walked over to his computer took a quick glance and moved the mouse to the inbox, clicked it and all his mail was right there. Without saying a single word, I simply turned around and walked out.
Now, that CIO was a generally very friendly, extremely sharp and technically astute. yet the stress of the moment had gotten to him and did not allow him to see the obvious.. right in front of his face. I didn’t feel that the situation required me to say a word, as not to make him feel worse than he already did.
I have a few rules I like to use when addressing an issue.
Many of these methods can be applied to issues of all kinds and not just those of a technical nature.
What is the issue or challenge? Do you fully grasp it or do you have a peripheral view of it? The answer is to try and isolate what is the real issue. Don’t start guessing the solution before you have isolated it. You may brainstorm, have some hints, or have run into this issue before, but that will not definitively indicate that the same solution applies in this situation.
How will you isolate? First you will need to understand how the entity (technical challenge or personal problem) you are working on actually works. If you don’t understand the inner workings of it, resolving the problem will be very difficult. So if we don’t fully understand something how do we gain sufficient knowledge to resolve it? Ask Questions! (I’ll get into this one in another post!)
Once you have an understanding of the issue, start with the basics. I have found that people tend to jump to conclusions that are far fetched instead of the basics. I am sure we have all heard the saying,
“when all else fails, go back to basics”
Well, I ask, why wait till all else fails, lets start with that! See if the solution is simple, and extremely basic… ie..is your computer plugged in? perhaps that’s why it isn’t turning on.. Did you say something insulting to someone.. maybe that’s why they are mad?
You get the idea.. maybe the computer is 10 years old and its slow.. just maybe because your program is a new one and your computer is very old…. basics..
Maybe your internet connection is slow because your office is still using a 14.4k modem to connect to the internet, and you have 30 people in an office using a single dial-up connection, or using DSL internet with 5Mbs for all 30 users
Start at what I like to call the top.. you know at the cloud level. No, not the internet cloud, about what I call the 50,000 foot level view. Try to grasp the larger picture and begin eliminating the things that definitively don’t fit as part of the problem.. like the basics and begin narrowing in on the issue by diving in. As you eliminate more and more, you will zero in on the problem.
But most important of all…
This is the one thing that escapes many people. Just because the instructions say to do something one way, does not Automatically mean that it must be applied literally. When your GPS Navigation in the car says to drive 2 miles ahead, does that mean you shouldn’t stop for lights and people… or anything else in your way?
Use logic! If you have 30 people in your office and they are all using the internet, for work, listening to music and or playing games and your internet speed is 5MBps.. Guess what… its going to be slow!
If your computer is really old and your programs are brand new… and you paid $300 for it at the time… guess what, its going to be slow…
If you said something stupid, or did something stupid, odds are… someone is going to be mad at you!
Not all issues are simple. I have spent about 8 weeks in a conference room with about 15 very intelligent people in their fields of expertise to try and figure out the problem. (It actually turned out to be an issue that no one in the room was the absolute expert on and was actually a software bug!)
No, they are not all simple, but lets start with the basics people. Don’t take things for granted and don’t assume ANYTHING.. you know what happens then..
Use these tips to tackle most technical challenges.
On my next post, I will go into how do we get the knowledge and how to narrow down the issues.