Hey, everybody! Welcome to this week’s quandary of Root Cause, Correlation Analysis, and having to collaborate across cross-functional teams where you have all the hands but none of the fingers!
If that sounds confusing to you, it’s because frankly, it is! I’d like to share a tale of woe and heartbreak driven by frustration in functional and equally dysfunctional IT team dynamics!
The story is set in a fairly cross-functional organization. You're probably familiar with the type. While there are clearly defined teams with responsibilities, there are also hard lines in the sand of who does what, where, when, how and why. Honestly, this story rings so true that I’ve seen this story blur with other ones. If that isn’t excitement, I don’t know what is!
As the story goes, our team had deployed a series of tools enabling a cross-stack data correlation engine allowing us to identify and truly correlate events as they happen to allow troubleshooting to be better, easier. The problem was the true burden of responsibility this team had ALL the responsibility of identifying problems, but none of the authority to actually resolve those problems, let alone the authorization to work on them! What makes this particularly fun is that we were chartered with and burdened by the responsibility of being held accountable for the issues until they were resolved. If that sounds like some kind of decision made in a government sector… I wouldn’t tell you you’re wrong! J
This is where simple technical skills while essential were not good enough. And frankly, all of the project management skills in the world wouldn’t matter here, because it’s not like a “problem” is a “project” per se. No, we had to get everyone on board, every stakeholder at the table where egos were strong and stubborn. Just like we discussed recently in Better Together - Working Together in Silo Organizations and When Being an Expert Isn’t Good Enough: Master of All Trades, Jack of None merely knowing the answer or the cause of the problem wasn’t good enough here. All parties would reject the issue being theirs, even in light of evidence proving otherwise and would instead resort to finger pointing. Fortunately how we started to navigate these waters was through education of the tools we were using and how it would provide insight into their systems, access to our tools so we weren’t just the messenger they were trying to shoot but a helpful informant in things, and we also offered our guidance as IT Professionals to help them navigate the errors or problems so they could resolve them better.
It sounds so simple, it’s something fairly straight-forward but the timing it took and would continue to take whenever new members would join a team, or new problems would surface would take months or longer to reach a sense of team parity.
It’s been an interesting element of Systems Operations in the face of having intelligence, and knowledge not meaning much of anything unless you had all parties engaged, and even then that was no guarantee that people would agree, let alone do anything about it.
Have you faced a similar issue as well, where you identify a problem which isn’t your problem and the challenges faced in trying to resolve it? Or perhaps even just having accountability for something which isn’t your responsibility and the woes of trying to get parties to take responsibility?
Or really any other story of problem correlation and root cause and how you were able to better or faster resolve it than what we faced!