The Troubleshooting Professional

“We are approaching a new age of synthesis. Knowledge cannot be merely a degree or a skill…it demands a broader vision, capabilities in critical thinking and logical deduction, without which we cannot have constructive progress” – Li Ka Shing

The pace of technology is increasing at a pace that is unprecedented and in a way that no one thought possible. Market size has increased and so have the issues but the number of good troubleshooters has not gone up to match this. The troubleshooting professional seems like a rare breed and they are unable to carry the load of troubleshooting problems alone. The general population must learn the ways of basic troubleshooting.

Learning troubleshooting is easy if the process is followed but the troubleshooting professional must be aware of the fundamentals –

– Basic understanding of technical methods and terminology
– Relationship between cause and effect
– Having a positive attitude

Despite its importance even in our daily life, the teaching of troubleshooting is not undertaken or considered necessary. Maybe there is not enough money in teaching these courses or probably too few takers. This must be changed and for those who choose to ignore this vital skill, let them not complain about how there are no ‘good’ car mechanics or people who can do an excellent job fixing a computer issue or how tough it is to get a good troubleshooting professional. Since you are not contributing to the solution, you are obviously enhancing the problem! If you are a troubleshooting professional or if you are a company that encourages all its staff to learn, troubleshooting, kudos to you! Read on….

Having a positive mental attitude is the most powerful tool and fundamental for being a thorough troubleshooting professional. With it comes an enhanced self-confidence that boosts your efficiency. However, the vulnerability of a novice lies in imagining that a positive attitude can replace hard work and regular practice. Mental attitude and positive thinking are only tools not the solution. No one can hope to succeed in troubleshooting if this fact is ignored. Positive attitude combined with hard work, practice and following work ethics will turn a novice in to an experienced and effective troubleshooting professional.

In everyday life too people attempt to troubleshoot issues regularly. They probably have no experience to fall back on nor do they have any troubleshooting models or diagrams that have been successful in the past. The novice troubleshooting person also faces these two dilemmas. The pitfall for a novice would lie in thinking that since he or she has a positive attitude and is quite good in everything, troubleshooting would not a breeze. The other extreme would be for the novice having a ‘cannot do’ attitude. This person would think that no matter what, he or she would never become a troubleshooting professional. Both these ways of thinking create mental blocks and will fail to accomplish the job.

Both these attitudes need to be corrected by the coach or manager of the novice troubleshooting staff. Troubleshooting is a process that can be learned and practised by anyone. It only requires hard work, a commitment to adhere to the methodology and continued practice. Documenting and monitoring past successes as you move ahead, serve as helpers and starting points. However, a troubleshooting professional knows never to ‘copy paste’ such solutions. Even a person with an average level of intelligence can become a master troubleshooter by keeping these characteristics in mind and following the steps of troubleshooting methodology.

Positive attitude will help a new troubleshooting staff to think realistically about this process to make the solution a reality. To train this person, he or she must be shown and taken through an actual problem. Following the process without skipping steps will lead to a solution and this is as true as any mathematical calculation. In everyday life too, we can find solutions to problems by narrowing down the scope and eliminating the possible causes of a problem till we are down to a couple of causes which will help bring out the root cause of the issue.

As we said earlier that troubleshooting is a process of learning. Troubleshooting can be learned and for those who wish to become the best and or take it up as a profession, must prepare. The job market is not always good but taking time before hand to prepare and understand troubleshooting will enable the new troubleshooter to ‘hit the ground running’ as and when a job opportunity is available in the market. Taking time to prepare, may not instantly get the new aspirant a high level job (we told you it involves practice) but this preparation will show when you work on the job. With all the characteristics in place and the ability to use them, will make you stand out from the rest and get noticed faster. As you get more practice and solve problems faster and more efficiently, there is nothing that can stand in the way of affluence and success and you. People may feel that ‘this was a lucky break’ but the now blossomed troubleshooter knows what was required to becoming a recognized troubleshooting professional.

Going on to the relationship between cause and effect – this is the base, the foundation of troubleshooting and anyone attempting to troubleshoot must remember this at all times. Knowing cause and effect will explain how things really work. Some people are rather superstitious and ignore cause and effect – a troubleshooting professional cannot afford to be superstitious. Superstitious behavior is a major stumbling block for people in the path of learning troubleshooting. For example – if your car’s engine is heating (effect) it is because there is a fault or the engine coolant is insufficient (causes). The possible causes need to be analyzed rather than hanging a ‘good luck charm’ to the car thinking that it would prevent any problems from occurring. Also when people use the slot machines in a video parlour, they think that using the same machine that someone else just won on, will help them win as well. They are ignoring that the reason the slot machine stops at a certain place is because of the amount of force and the internal mechanism. Letting such superstitions take precedence would be comical and also detrimental for a troubleshooting professional. Superstition is a random assignment of a cause to a certain effect which is the complete opposite of how troubleshooting functions. The causes of an effect are derived and reached at logically and after proper analysis.

Assigning random causes to effects would result in more problems and or more wrong ‘solutions’ and even no solutions at all resulting in increased amounts of time being spent on the same problem. And if the troubleshooting is being done for a customer – well it would lead to decreased levels of satisfaction and possibly customer ire.

Troubleshooting as a process can be hard and could take a toll on you mentally and physically and so a troubleshooting professional knows that the more this is practised and learned, the easier it would be cut their workload. Continuously working on resolving problems caused by machine or human errors with the machine, can be quite taxing. It is important, just like in every other high stress job, to take breaks. A computer troubleshooting professional may be really good at his or her work and as a result is able to repair 10-12 computers a day. Taking a half an hour break or even a half day off is a sure way to replenish the energy and remain on top of their game. Any company and manager worth their salt would appreciate this.

Taking pride in your work also increases efficiency and further reduces the time taken to troubleshoot. Troubleshooting as a practice can be arduous given the routine and intensity of the process. Let others know of your accomplishments and ensure that your manager knows too – this is not boastful behaviour but rather being rightfully proud of your skills and abilities. Being recognized makes everyone happier and increases efficiency – true for a troubleshooting professional. Taking pride in troubleshooting also reduces the impact of disappointment. There are bound to be times when the solution will not come about as quickly as anticipated but a troubleshooting professional who takes pride in the job will know that this disappointment a one-off and is an opportunity to learn.
Keeping the points mentioned here will not only help you be productive as a troubleshooter but also be prevent being weighed down or burning out in case a project does not work as intended. Following the process, remembering the basics and taking pride – the make-up of a true troubleshooting professional!

“Logical thinking can outwit random processing!” ― Stephen Richards

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