Common Troubleshooting Myths

“Myths are a waste of time. They prevent progression.” – Barbara Streisand

Everyone who uses technology knows that there are bound to be times when things will not work as they should and it is best to be self-reliant in being able to fix minor technical problems. As an individual, member of a team or even as a person in the highest rungs of a company, the success of your brand and you would now largely depend on this self-reliance. Being able to troubleshoot some technical issues in a way that they do not reoccur is now a highly useful skill.

For an employee having a strong self -brand image means greater chances of promotions, better salary increments and job roles, more influence with senior management and reduced chance of being laid off in the event of a recession. Being part of technically sound department ensures that the department is practically safe from being outsourced and the department as a whole is able to command respect, better budgets and awards. A recognized department boosts the morale for the team as a whole and encourages collaboration and team work. A strong leadership is seen as a force to reckon with. This translates to an elevated reputation in the market with increased profitability. Curiously therefore, troubleshooting seems to work positively for everyone.

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Troubleshooting however still is not welcomed and there are apprehensions in the minds of people especially those who see troubleshooting as the domain of the ‘technically sound’. There are destructive troubleshooting myths that cause this apprehension and need to be dispelled. Listed are some of these troubleshooting myths:

– If you need to be good at troubleshooting a very high level of expertise is required about the machine or system that you are trying to fix

This is definitely one of the most common and yet the most costly and destructive troubleshooting myth. Companies spend valuable resources to hire and train wrong people for a wrong job. A technically sound person does not necessarily have the attitude, mindset or discipline required for troubleshooting. All that is really required is to have adequate knowledge about a machine or system, know the tests that need to be conducted and then use the troubleshooting process (that is easily learned) to narrow down to a list of possible causes. Even without prior knowledge or experience a well-written documentation on troubleshooting can enable one to find the root cause of the problem. What is noteworthy here is that even the most experienced troubleshooters will fail if they do not follow the troubleshooting process. Getting consistent training on the methods and possible pitfalls of troubleshooting is sufficient to enable anyone to undertake this task.

– Another of the troubleshooting myths is that this process depends on the machine or system to be fixed.

This is so absurd since machines and systems vary – even within the same organization. However, the overall troubleshooting process is the same. A logical and analytical approach would allow you to fix a faulty computer, geyser or even use it for effective parenting!

– The best and effective troubleshooters are born. They are not taught or schooled for troubleshooting.

Troubleshooting by its very definition is a logical set of procedures and analytical abilities. It is a combination of attitude, fortitude and focused mindset that is easily taught and learned. A person willing to learn is able to learn and master any skill.

Someone may argue that the world’s fastest runner was born to run which is why he holds the record. However, one needs to remind this person that – it is only with regular practice, coaching and focus on doing his best that he has been able to set this record. In fact, early on in his career, he was plagued by injuries that prevented him from completing even one season of competitions. He was tagged as being not useful. It was only through a determination and mindset to move ahead and fix these problems that lead him to be the ‘fastest man on earth’.

A company does not require a ‘world-class troubleshooter’ who has won many competitions. All that is required are people you have the right attitude and think clearly about an issue at hand and address it in a logical manner.

– Some people think that – either you can troubleshoot or you cannot.

This is so ridiculous and utterly wrong. A person’s abilities have a range and can either get better with practice and usage or decline due to lack of these. They are not absolutes. For example almost everyone can ride a bicycle but it is only with concerted effort that one can

– On the other end of the spectrum are people who feel that they can troubleshoot anything since they do it every day. This is as ridiculous and similar to the myth above.

– The most astonishing of the troubleshooting myths is the idea that troubleshooting is not half as important as any other skill – technical or soft.

Would like to hear this being said to the top person in the company when the overloaded system crashes and plunges the entire company into chaos creating loss of valuable work hours and revenue! Impatient and demanding customers are unlikely to empathize and will more often than not view it as a severe company-wide handicap and limitation.

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– Not troubleshooting but only machines and software that are symptomatic are required.

This myth has cost and will cost companies large amounts of money and other resources in repair work and on systems that cannot be fixed. If for example – the computer throws up a message “bad computer” most will go ahead and replace this expensive machine with another without analyzing the reason for this error. A person who is trained in troubleshooting, on the other hand would look for the reasons and reach a logical conclusion that would save the machine from being discarded and thereby saving an unnecessary cost. This troubleshooting myth would be the cause of problems across all industries.

For companies, individuals and teams to do well it is essential that they fallacies are kept at bay. In fact keeping in mind the pointers below will help to dispel these myths. Troubleshooting myths are easily discarded if everyone understood:

– That being smart is not what’s important, it is how you use that smartness and your brain
– It is not about knowing a lot but how one uses this knowledge to resolve issues
– Immediately plunging in to fixing a problem is not the best approach. Understanding all the possible causes before doing so will help eliminate the least possible and narrow the list down to the most likely.

Let us look at some additional troubleshooting tips that will help to do away with troubleshooting myths:

– Quality of the process

The end result or solution will almost entirely depend on the sequence and steps followed to reach the conclusion. Correct and complete description of symptoms, re-creating those symptoms in a training environment will help fix the exact problem and not waste time on trying to fix the related problems. Having a thorough quality and maintenance check schedule will ensure that the need for regular troubleshooting is reduced. Also it shows the customers – both internal and external – that you care about doing a thorough job and that huge costs can be saved by paying attention to the quality of maintenance. In the event that troubleshooting is required, careful attention to detail and process will not only fix the problem but keep it fixed and reduce the chances of re-occurrence.

Being able to accurately test a system and the solution is as critical as a quality check done at a factory. It ensures that a proper recording of problems, the process and the solutions is done as a referral document for other troubleshooters. Troubleshooters must always be mindful that the worst kinds of troubleshooting failures happen when corners are cut and steps are skipped, assuming them to be unimportant. Like all other jobs and tasks, being confident and taking pride in the quality of one’s work, is also a key factor in providing utmost customer satisfaction.

Troubleshooting myths prevent people and companies from reaching their optimized potential. Companies that believe these troubleshooting myths tend to ignore troubleshooters and do not provide training or avenues for growth or even encourage troubleshooting as a skill. A clear understanding of troubleshooting will be beneficial to everyone in the long haul.

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