Common Troubleshooting Myths
Copyright (C) 1996-2006, 2014 by Steve Litt
Whether you're reading this as an individual, a department member, or corporate management, your brand depends to a great degree on ability to quickly fix technical problems, and fix them so they stay fixed, so the fix doesn't cause side effect problems. In other words, your brand depends on high performance troubleshooting.
If you're reading this as an employee, a strong individual brand means less exposure to layoffs, greater opportunity for promotions, more influence on technical directions, and, probably, better performance reviews and salary increases.
A strong department brand means more influence on technical and logistical matters. It's a deterrent to department outsourcing, and helps secure a good budget for your department. It boosts department morale, and helps if some other department starts a turf war with yours.
A strong company brand means sales.
Bottom line, high performance troubleshooting makes life much better for everybody.
A significant factor retarding adoption of high performance troubleshooting in organizations large and small is belief in a set of false and destructive myths. This document lists those myths, and sets the record straight about each one.
Here are the destructive myths:
This most destructive myth costs companies millions when they hire the wrong people for the wrong jobs. This myth causes them to hire technical experts without regard to their knowledge of the process and mindset of troubleshooting. The truth is, if you know enough about the machine or system to know what tests to conduct (and it's surprising how little knowledge this takes), you can use the Universal Troubleshooting Process to narrow the problem down to the root cause. Often mere possession of the system documentation or service manual, without prior knowledge of the system, gives a high performance Troubleshooter enough techical expertise to find the root cause.
On the other hand, systems experts who don't use a troubleshooting process fail spectacularly. If you're a technologist, learn the Universal Troubleshooting Process. If you're an employer, give your employees training in the process of troubleshooting.
The truth is that systems and machines may vary, but the Universal Troubleshooting Process is common to all!
In reality, troubleshooting is a set of procedures, priorities, mental tools, beliefs and attitudes that anyone can master.
Occasionally you'll meet someone so completely invested in this myth they come back with an argument such as "Michael Phelps is a born swimmer, which is why he won 18 gold medals in three Olympics!"
Such a person should be reminded of the following:
This too is wrong. Just like any ability, there's a spectrum. A person can always get better. Imagine how silly this myth would sound substituting "play basketball" for the word "troubleshoot".
See previous myth.
Tell that to the CEO when a mission-critical system crashes and revenue stops.
This myth results in millions of dollars worth of unnecessary repair work and unfixed systems. It's worst in the automotive industry, where in many shops if the diagnostic computer says "bad computer", then by gosh and by golly they replace the computer regardless of the fact that the computer is being fed garbage from a bad sensor. However, this myth causes problems in every industry, as you can see from the second story in this article.
There are many myths about troubleshooting, and these myths prevent troubleshooters from reaching their potential, and discourage organizations from giving their troubleshooters the right training. This, in turn, hurts your brand. Individuals can get the right training from books in the Troubleshooters.Com Bookstore. Departments and corporations can give their technologists the right training with the Troubleshooters.Com Universal Troubleshooting Process course.