Help Desk World
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work for a living, then part of what you do is solve problems. These problems
might consist of people or things; they might range from office politics, to
printers that refuse to print and LANS that just won’t LAN, in any case you
get paid to fix it.
start with the easy stuff. The physical world -- these are all the things that
do exactly what we tell them to and are literally incapable of doing anything
they’re not supposed to.
Did it ever work the way you think it should? Are you a hundred precent positively
certain? Did you see it with your own eyes? Or are you relying on second hand
testimony? There is a very good reason why ‘hearsay’ evidence isn’t
allowed into a court of law. Before you set out trying to make something do
something, make sure it used to do it in the first place.
Changed? Once you know it did it
once, the most important question is what changed to cause it to stop doing what
it was doing. “I didn’t do anything! It just stopped working!” Is normally
the cry of someone trying to hide what they did, or someone who did something
they didn’t think would interfere with the smooth running of the universe.
But sometimes the above claim is both honest and accurate. Nobody did
anything. Something happened to change the status quo that nobody knows about. A
fuse burnt, a circuit breaker did its job, the power fluctuated, the gas tank is
empty, the cat unplugged something.
Else? Is there another copy of the
same thing that is working as it should? Can we compare these two things, atom
by atom if necessary, to identify what’s going wrong?
Problem Solving is the fine art of changing the world until it fits the
vision in your mind. Go slowly in your changes, impatience is the enemy of
progress. If you change more than one thing at a time, then you’ll never know
which of what you did made things better or worse, or even if they are competing
for dominance and causing failure in the attempt.
Remember all the out of the box thinking stuff you’ve been hearing
about? Simply stated all it means is this, when what you’ve tried hasn’t
worked, it’s time to work what you haven’t tried.
let’s turn to the graduate school of problem solving. This is where everything
involved has a mind of its own, and might not want to be fixed. Welcome to the
wild and wooly world of people problems.
When working with people problems it is absolutely crucial that you are
honest with yourself and lay out your personal agenda in the scenario in front
of you. You cannot solve a people problem as an outsider. To attempt to solve a
people problem is to become a player in the drama.
Now that you have established you are involved, who else is party to
this problem? Until you know all the players, how they interact and what their
primary agendas are, you’ll be playing poker with half the deck and not sure
if a full house beats a flush.
Who gains from the current situation, and who gains if the situation
shifts in another direction? People problems are usually brought about by
perceptions of win/loss outcomes. Sometimes the perceptions are correct, other
times they need clarification and correction.
Rule #1 of Human nature -- Nobody likes to lose. It’s not always
possible to find the holy grail of the win/win outcome, but it’s nearly always
possible to find a win/(lose less) solution to the problem. It is also possible to lessen the
blow of loss if the winner is aware that “gloating” aggravates the loss.
Problem solving is a difficult task, made all the more difficult when we
scurry from problem to problem without taking the time to examine past wins and
losses. Each solution, regardless of effectiveness is a step towards the
solution of the next problem, if and only if we take the time to look backward.
art, to appreciate problem solving best you need to stand back from it a bit.
Peter de Jager is a speaker, writer & consultant. Contact him via [email protected]
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