This editorial was originally published on Feb 13, 2013. It is being re-run as Steve is out of the office.
What’s your job? Most of you will answer “DBA”, or “developer”, or “manager”, or something that corresponds to your title. That’s partially true, but for the most part if you are in Information Technology, I think your job is to solve problems. You should ensure that your systems, or your code, or whatever you work on, is running smoothly for the people that use them.
That isn’t always possible. There will be times that things break, that bugs crop up or systems fail. When that happens, people don’t want to hear about the inherent problems, or even what went wrong. They might ask, and they might be curious, but really what they want to know is when will the system be fixed and what will it cost.
I’ve never had a manager that was really interested in the problems that caused a failure when systems were down. I’ve rarely had managers interested in potential problems I’ve noticed in our organization. Managers might be curious about the issues, but they don’t want you to bring them problems. They want you to bring them solutions when you see a problem, multiple choices to fix things, and a recommendation for the option you feel is best. They want a solution that works well, doesn’t cost a lot, and can be implemented quickly.
Competition for jobs gets more intense all the time and the employees that look for problems and provide solutions without being asked will be the most valuable. They will stand out from their peers and are more likely to not only keep their jobs during down times, but will get asked to solve the interesting and challenging problems.