IBM Research on Admin Troubleshooting - Our New Class Can Help! Print E-mail
Written by Darwin Sanoy   
Monday, January 17, 2011 8:26pm

IBM has been researching how Admins troubleshoot complex systems - to better understand what works and what does not.  A couple years and many hours of video tape later, some of their findings are being published at by Communications of the ACM.  Check out how the principles in our upcoming troubleshooting course would have helped out in one of these scenarios...

If you do a lot of troubleshooting or debugging, this article is an interesting one.  It talks through several real troubleshooting scenarios - it reads like a film documentary sounds.

The researchers point out the high level of collaboration that goes into the effort and then conclude that collaboration needs to be amped up even higher.  Collaboration is an excellent principle of troubleshooting and should never be neglected.  However, if two of the CSI Troubleshooting Principles were followed, the path to the solution could have been traveled much faster - both before and during the collaborative portion of the effort.

As you analyze the first scenario ("The Story of George"), consider how these two CSI Troubleshooting Principles would have helped George out:

1) Draw a System Problem Model.  The degree to which we are visual creatures can never be over-stated and when we sketch non-physical things like the logical operations of trillions of electrons into a picture - we are fantastically more productive.  Physically drawing also activates additional brain pathways that can generate new leads on the problem or solution.  

Pick up your pencil early and often in the troubleshooting game - it will pay huge dividends.  

(Also take note what the researchers do in the content of the article to help you comprehend the problem.)

2) Manage the Problem + Manage the Mindset.  Your mind was designed to be extremely efficient at ignoring "cognitive noise".  The challenge is that the mind's technique is largely consists of "ignoring the obvious" - and when the problem of the week is beating you over the head, all too frequently the answer lies in an assumption that is just too obvious to be questioned.

While troubleshooting, never lose sight of the fact that you need to manage two things with equal vigor: 1) The Problem, 2) Your Mindset.

These principles, and many more, are the essence of our upcoming course Win7 Application Testing and Troubleshooting Technician (TEC-40).  

If you want to be notified when the class goes live, signup for training updates.

Here is the page at the ACM where you can read The Story of George.


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