Derik Whittaker

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The Sky is falling, the Sky is falling…. Or is it?

I assume everyone is familiar with the children's book Chicken Little where the chicken little had an acorn fall on her head and she just assume the entire sky was falling so she ran to the king to tell him such.  Well, sadly too many times people in our industry do the same thing.

Today I received an email from one of the product owners in my product group stating ‘the entire build & deploy process is broken and is going to cause our project (which is slated to go live in late 2010) to miss its deadline’. WOW, what a way to start off my day (oh yea, he CC’ed up the entire food chain). 

Now since the build server has been mostly stable for months and I had not head too much from this team in terms of the build/deploy process I was a bit taken back about this.  At first I was kinda worried we may have an issue.  However, calmer heads prevailed about 10 seconds into my thought process and I realized this may be an email with no or little merit.  I decided that before I spent any time looking into the issue I needed more information.  I needed to know exactly what was failing, when it started, why I had not heard about this before, etc, etc.  So in order to possible head off anyone the food chain from also reacting as the sky was falling, I politely asked this PO to clearly state each of the problems they are experiencing and when they started to experience them and only then could we take a look at the email and take it serious.

The point of this little story (apart from allowing me to vent) is to state the obvious.  If you find yourself in a situation where something is wrong, or you need someone else’s help in resolving an issue please, please, please do your best to understand the issue, understand the scope of the issue and do your best to clearly state what you have done to resolve the issue.


Posted 09-30-2009 9:25 AM by Derik Whittaker
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Comments

Tony wrote re: The Sky is falling, the Sky is falling…. Or is it?
on 09-30-2009 1:18 PM

But what happened with the build server? =P

In all seriousness, this a good tip to remember. While being dramatic is fun, in the end it is more of a time waster then anything else.

jdn wrote re: The Sky is falling, the Sky is falling…. Or is it?
on 10-04-2009 11:53 PM

Out of curiosity (and assuming you can talk about it) what was the problem, and did you fix it?

Awkward Coder wrote re: The Sky is falling, the Sky is falling…. Or is it?
on 10-05-2009 4:35 PM

counting to 10 before sending any email is always a good idea ;)

Dave Schinkel wrote re: The Sky is falling, the Sky is falling…. Or is it?
on 10-08-2009 12:04 AM

I agree.  Half the time you are given an emergency, lack of information, and then you end up sighing because the person who got worked up about a non-issue either did not look into it properly, made a mistake themselves, or just drank too much coffee that morning.

Are we told to run out of a schoolhouse when a fire occurs?  No, proceed orderly, clearly being aware thus preventing from making the situation even more chaotic.

Same goes with anything in life, especially Software Development due to the unpredictable nature of programming, Networking, and other aspects of IT and engineering in general for that matter.

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