Most of the time, I enjoy troubleshooting. It’s a logic puzzle where you gather evidence, test your theories, and hopefully reach a satisfying solution that leaves everyone happy.
But it’s not always like that. Sometimes people get in the way. My least favorite experiences are typically where you end up with representatives from multiple different companies on a conference call – all to investigate a problem that occurs when their different products and services interact together. In these scenarios, the conversation can very easily go off the rails – as everyone assumes their product is working correctly, and the problem must lie elsewhere. This results in finger-pointing, grumbling, and (most importantly) slow progress on solving the actual problem.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this article we’re going to dive into the people-side of troubleshooting, through the metaphor of dance.
The Dance Begins
Just like a dance floor, the troubleshooting environment must be carefully prepared to foster collaboration. The host, either the service provider or a friendly independent consultant (!) plays a vital role in creating an inclusive and respectful space. Their task is to ensure that all participants feel heard and valued, setting aside any preconceived notions or biases. By emphasizing the importance of teamwork and highlighting the collective goal of resolving the issue at hand, the stage is set for a harmonious troubleshooting experience.
Managing Egos and Expectations
In any collaborative endeavor, egos can sometimes overshadow the common purpose. Troubleshooting is no exception. Everyone wants to showcase the strengths of their offering while avoiding any perception of blame. However, it is essential to manage egos effectively, encouraging individuals to shift their focus to collective problem-solving.
By nurturing a mindset of collaboration and encouraging open dialogue, troubleshooters can break down barriers and work towards a solution as a unified force – a team of voice detectives! This shared focus will guide their actions and decisions as they navigate the intricate steps of the troubleshooting tango.
Unmasking the Evidence
In the troubleshooters’ dance, evidence serves as the neutral ground where all parties can converge. It acts as a guiding light, illuminating the path towards resolution and allowing for objective analysis.
When tensions run high and different parties seek to protect their products or services, objective analysis becomes the troubleshooters’ compass. It provides a common ground where facts and data take center stage, transcending personal biases or subjective opinions. By grounding discussions in evidence (logs, alarms, diagnostics, the results of tests), troubleshooters can establish a foundation of objectivity and rationality, shifting the focus from blame to a collective pursuit of the truth.
To unmask the evidence, troubleshooters must employ a systematic approach to gather relevant data and information. This involves conducting thorough investigations, collecting logs, examining error reports, and engaging with end-users or customers affected by the issue. By pooling their resources and knowledge, the troubleshooters can piece together a comprehensive picture of the problem.
But gathering the information is not enough. Interpreting the evidence is a delicate yet essential step in the troubleshooters’ dance. Each team brings their own expertise and perspective, which, when combined, can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the problem. Or it can quickly lead to a blame game.
When I’m leading a discussion, I like to show the diagnostics I’m seeing, and propose theories for what it might mean, or ask others to do so. If the conversation is getting tense, then if I disagree with someone’s views, I’ll tend to use the phrase “I’m puzzled by…” rather than outright disagreeing – inviting the other person to help solve my puzzlement.
By encouraging open dialogue and respectful debates, troubleshooters can leverage the collective intelligence of the group and uncover hidden connections or insights that may have eluded individual analysis.
Throughout the conversation you want to ensure that evidence remains at the forefront of your discussions and decisions. If the troubleshooting team comes up with a theory, then look for opportunities to test this theory – so you can continuously validate or refine the evidence. When evidence becomes the cornerstone of decision-making, troubleshooters can navigate through challenges with confidence and make informed choices that lead to effective solutions.
Dance in Harmony
The world of troubleshooting is not always a solitary journey. It can be transformed into a lively dance where individuals from different companies must learn to step together, leaving egos behind and embracing collaboration. By following the principles of evidence-based decision-making, effective analysis, and harmonious teamwork, troubleshooters can navigate through tense encounters, resolve problems efficiently, and build bridges of cooperation.
If you need an independent third-party to lead your troubleshooting efforts, then don’t hesitate to reach out. Two of our core values at Award Consulting are “Solve the whole problem” and “Be part of the team” which are critical mindsets to have in any troubleshooting effort.