Trouble Shooting

Since March 1983, I have worked in Information Technology. The first twenty years or so as a software developer, the next twenty years as an analyst, on a help desk, doing installations and migrations, and web development. In all these roles, I encountered problems that had to be solved before I could make any progress. Many times I was under pressure because of urgent deadlines. I learned how to formulate questions that can be answered yes or no. I learned tricks and techniques to tease information out of complex systems. Let me put my skills and 40 years of experience to work for you.

If I encounter a problem I have seen before, the solution is easy and obvious. But what if I have never seen it before? Everyone has a mental “map” of the world they live in. As an IT professional, my map include technical concepts and terms that IT professionals are familiar with, but the non-techies are not. So when encountering a technical support issue I am not familiar with, I try to discern the mental map of the person reporting the problem, and see what corresponds to the mental map I already have. If I do not already have the items in my map, I will look in the company knowledge base (if it has one) or do a Google search. I use the exact expression (if I have one) or perhaps try several different search terms to see what kind of hits I get. Once get some specifics of the current problem, if I don’t really know about, I consider if it would fit in with areas of knowledge I am experienced with. For example, I recently got a call from a potential customer about a kind of drive I had never heard of that was not being recognized by the computer it was in. By my experience, I inferred it was either a BIOS/UEFI problem or a device driver problem, both areas I am quite familiar with. Since the problem happened at boot time, I inferred the problem was in the BIOS/UEFI. That was the area I concentrated my efforts on. I try to formulate questions that can be answered yes or no, so I can narrow the possible root causes. Sometimes I have to learn new ways of seeking answers that I did not know. If I can get to the point of identifying the root cause, the solution will almost always present itself. I have found that more than native intelligence or expert knowledge, persistence and resourcefulness almost invariably lead to success.