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Is This Mess Mine?

April 21, 2015

Rodney, I need to know if we should let our agents work overtime through the end of the outage.

That’s a Garrett question.

I have lots of things that I’m responsible for at work. In fact, there are some things that I consider myself responsible for that others are not so sure. For example, when we have an outage on our call floor, I’m one of the first people that our Mission Control folks call. We have a group specifically responsible for running an outage call. We occasionally have disagreements over who is going to run an outage call for my account. 

This is Gurav with Incident Management. The first thing we need is a ping and a trace from the call floor. 

Ah. . .we don’t really need a ping and trace, Gurav. Now Allison, I need to know which line of business is being impacted? How many agents are impacted? How many agents staffed and when did it start?

At that point, Gurav or his counterparts, normally get the hint and let me run the call. Occasionally, it takes another couple of hints. 

Is it my mess? 

Why would I take responsibility for a mess that someone else is willing to take over? 

I know some people who see work as a game of “Hot Potato.” You know, the game, you toss a “bomb,” or a virtual potato around a group of people. The object is to get rid of the potato as quickly as possible, because at some point the timer goes off. Whoever is holding the potato when the timer goes off, loses. 

These people spend time figuring out how to make sure a problem doesn’t stick to them. They view each meeting as an exercise in deflecting blame. These people don’t understand why I would willing take responsibility for a problem if I didn’t have to. 

Some people think it’s a martyr complex. I’m not sure if that’s even a thing, but it is in my family. The martyr complex is the idea that you create (or adopt) problems so that you can try to fix them. I don’t think I’m that guy. And that’s not why I refuse to avoid responsibility. 

The goal of my position boils down to one objective. We make money when we take calls. If we cannot take calls, we don’t make money. It’s that simple. If I thought that letting our Incident Management team could get us back to taking calls quicker, I’d let them run the call. The fact is, I understand our call floor better than anyone. I understand our customers, our clients and our tools. 

I don’t want to spend time sending my agents through exercises that won’t make a difference. Using the ping command where you open a command prompt and type


will help you figure out if you can get to the internet. The trace command,


will tell you what route your connection has to the internet. 

The problem is that from our call floor our agents cannot open a command prompt. And from our call floor, our agents cannot get to Google. So, for most clients, a ping and a trace is a good troubleshooting step. But, from my call floor, it’s a waste of time. 

I don’t have time to waste when we are trying to get our agents back on line. Just because someone else is willing to take over a mess, doesn’t mean I’m going to let them. If I give them responsibility for the problem, then I have to give them responsibility for the solution. And they can’t do it as fast as I can. 

Yeah, I’ll take that mess. 

On your job, how to identify the stuff you can change and the stuff you can’t.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 
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