Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I Did Not Attend . . .

buttepirates  . . . High School in Butte, Montana. However, I'm in total support of their athletic program.

This morning (as I stole a higher-backed office chair for my own enjoyment) I decided to talk a little bit about workplace communication in this morning's post.

Yesterday there was an issue with a miscommunication. I'll go over it and we can figure out together where it went wrong.

1. I got a request to build a program and deploy it to "[Client Name Deleted] Production and Test".

2. I built the requested application and checked my document on the [Client Name Deleted] environment. My document is a tattered photocopy of indeterminate age which was propping up a corner of my monitor stand when I moved into this desk.

3. I went to the original requestor (after sending an email and waiting for long enough to become irritated) and asked for specific server names. She did not know them, but directed me to Instant Message the Project Coordinator.

4. The Project Coordinator supplied the server names for the deployment.

5. I made the change on servers A, B, C, D, E and F. According to process, I overwrote the existing files on all servers to replace them with the new and improved files.

6. I got an email from the Project Coordinator "just making sure" that I had not made the change on servers A, B and C. If I had, it was further hoped that the original files were not overwritten.

7. I shrieked. I had triple-freaking-checked and still broken something and now I had to pay the price of attempting a data recovery on someone else's servers.

8. I recovered the files and went on with my life.

Now, in this case it might seem that the proper channels were followed. I emailed the original requestor. I followed up in person. I asked specific questions of the person that knows. I followed procedure.

My own personal rule would have served me better than process in this case.

Skipping out and getting coffee would have also served me better, but I'll concentrate on my own personal rule for the purposes of this post.

Garrick's Rule of Office Communciation #1 reads as follows:

Always answer a question with another question.

Garrick's Rule of Office Communication #2 reads as follows:

The threat of bodily harm will often preclude further requests.

In the case yesterday, the exchange should have gone like this --


Business Requestor: Hey Garrick, can you make an undocumented change on a really important server we can't specifically identify?

Me: Did you know I can kill a person fourteen different ways with this ballpoint pen without leaving my chair?


See? Much better. It addresses the question and simultaneously imposes limits. It offers no implication of pending activity and establishes a baseline for future interaction.

It also just skirts the law on terroristic threats, as far as I can tell from the Law School Message Boards I've been reviewing.

Please check your local legal definitions before attempting to replicate this method.

See? By saying that, I can't be sued. At least according to those same Message Boards.  


As a final bit of news, I found out last night that my Hannah Montana shirt is considered [Epic] by Nick. Thank you, Nick. You and I are alone in that opinion, probably. That does not make the opinion wrong. 


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