Tuesday 14 May 2013

Thought Picnic: Having an eye on the centre of the storm

Constructing the invisible
Most of my productive day is spent peering into logs, logs of events in faraway countries on systems I will never touch from people who I have made an acquaintance with on email or instant messaging chat programs.
From these logs, one has to deduce quite a few things; the easy part is when everything works, you know what to check and that is done.
Understanding the issue
When things fail, you brain goes into overdrive, you first have to locate the error, understand the circumstances around the error, determine if it catastrophic or benign and beyond that appreciate if that error is systemic or just an isolated issue.
If it is systemic, you have to work through a workflow that has become ingrained to a rote by reason of experience, whereas an isolated one might require identifying the variable that is sometimes unquantifiable in order to avoid a repetition of the same.
Interacting beyond sight
Meanwhile, as the logs are reviewed, you are communicating with people in a distant time zone, speaking a different language and under pressure to fulfil some project quota allotted to them without the consideration of unexpected eventualities.
As you divine the circumstances and communicate back your findings, this needs to be done in plain language especially if you require more detailed information beyond the usual logs to buttress the initial conclusions you have come to.
Between unsure and sure
At the same time, one is fallible, you see things that are not there, you might jump to the wrong conclusions and publish the same only to be debunked shortly before you’ve had time to offer excuses for your folly – it is a teachable moment, I take it and learn from it.
Autonomy is a welcome luxury of having initiative and the authority of an expert; it is so humbling to have your ego bruised when after painstakingly putting together the detail of your findings someone dismisses them outright as if you do not know what you are talking about.
Brook no nonsense
You pore over the data again, review your conclusions, gather more evidence and strive to enforce the weight of your well-founded opinions as indisputable facts finding the tone, nuance, context and gravity to come down like a ton of bricks of whoever had the effrontery to question your judgement.
The purpose is to come to an understanding whilst clearly defining the bailiwicks of the participants – I am engaged as an expert to perform a role, it is not asking too much to be treated with a modicum of respect which will elicit a more enthusiastic demeanour to help and bring the issue to a favourable resolution.
Softening the tone
Emails are more for jousting to prove a point, a telephone conversation or the use of an instant messaging facility seems to mellow the atmosphere allowing for a moderated level of discourse and parting on a friendly note.
Communication is a skill and those who know to use it will always find a way to settle an issue in the most amicable way regardless of the what wrong footing they originally irked each other on.
I like facts, the logs are good enough evidence if you can support the interpretations with incontrovertible proof – I am driven to know how, why and what because that is how lasting solutions are birthed.
I love my job, I am confident in what I know, I strive to be thorough so that I am right in my conclusions and we will get a solution if you allow me to do what I do know to do and work to do very well. 

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