Be a Problem Solver Not a DBA #2

As a continuation of this series (first post here), I would like to discuss one of the processes that I use in an attempt to efficiently solve problems.  Recently, I was in the middle of a situation where a client resource came in pounding the table that they believed something needed to be disabled and it had to be done right now!  I didn’t dispute that there was a problem, but there was very little evidence of who was being impacted, what was being impacted and how much the problem was impacting these resources.  Part of being a good IT resource is not only identifying problems and how to fix them, but more importantly what are my alternatives and how is it effecting the system and if we fix it what else might happen.

Perhaps you have noticed, but from time to time I will make references to aviation and aviation related topics.  While it is one of my hobbies, aviation has also taught me to be a better problem solver.  This is because when you are up there and something happens, you need to have the tools to figure things out on your own as more often than not, there isn’t anyone else to help.  So this post will focus on a method of problem solving that I learned throughout my flight training; one that I rely heavily on today, the DECIDE model.

Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM) is a cornerstone of both being a good aviator and being able to solve problems.  So for the context of technology, lets just think of it as Decision Making.  If you ever care to read it, a full chapter on this is publicly available via the FAA website:

Effective Aeronautical Decision-Making


  • Define

Define the problem.  What is going on?  When did it start?  What is the impact?  Is there really a problem?  Is what needs to be happening still happening?

  • Establish the Criteria

Establish the criteria for evaluating the identified problem.  What do you need to achieve in this decision-making process?  What about the current situation do we need to make sure continues to happen?  What additional problems or side effects should we try to avoid inducing?

  • Consider Alternatives

What are all the possible choices which allow us to fulfill our previously defined criteria?  Do we do nothing?  Defer for a period of time?  Which alternative has the least assumptions?

  • Identify the BEST Alternative

Select the best alternative based upon experience, intuition and experimentation.  The important thing to remember here is to rely on all available resources to Identify the alternative.  While it’s important to be fast, do not sacrifice considering all corners of an alternative as part of identifying the BEST alternative.  Its OK to have an interim alternative before implementing the final alternative.

  • Do

Develop and Implement a plan of action.  When will we implement?  Is there a short-term and long-term implementation plan?  What people and other resources are needed?

  • Evaluate

Evaluate and monitor the solution.  Did the implementation go as expected?  What could go wrong?  How will it be handled?  What could be done next time to improve?


Hopefully implementing this into your routine and becoming methodical about solving problems will make you more efficient and more certain about the solutions you are proposing.  I know it works for me.

Additional References:
Problem Solving – Free Management Books


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