Troubleshooting Techniques: Knowledge, Access, and Creativity
Just as important is access to the environment where error is occurring. In order to verify the various execution steps of whatever is broken, you will need to be able to make measurements at multiple points in the processing. If you have to rely on an intermediary to interpret those results and relay them to you, information can potentially get lost in the translation leading you to draw incorrect conclusions.
An example of this is the children’s party game “Telephone”. Line up a number of people side by side. Have the first person in the line whisper a phrase to the second person, who then tries to repeat it to the third person, and so on. By the time the last person tries to repeat the phrase for the group, it has changed dramatically. Each person in the line filtered what they heard and interpreted it for the next person. This illustrates that information gets lost, or changed entirely, when even well-intentioned intermediaries are involved. While direct access is not always possible, it is the best way to guarantee reliable data throughout the troubleshooting process.
Finally, your device is supposed to work a certain way and for some reason it does not. In some cases the reasons for this will be obvious, but creativity comes into play when factors not previously considered are influencing the outcome. Based on your knowledge of the situation and of your more general domain expertise, you may need to apply creative thinking in order to “see” aspects affecting your result that you may not have thought of in earlier phases of your project. When stumped, try to think “outside the box” and reconsider things you may have assumed away previously.
Knowledge. Access. Creativity. Taking these three elements into consideration, the remainder of this chapter takes you through steps that will help you uncover solutions to most troubleshooting problems and what you should do with the results.
- Wrath of Khan Anecdote
- Knowledge, Access, and Creativity
- Step 1 - Were all the instructions followed correctly?
- Step 2 - Is this happening here or is it happening everywhere?
- Step 3 - Something changed recently, what is it?
- Step 4 - What isn’t broken versus what is?
- Step 5 - It’s fixed, now what?
- Final Thoughts