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But What Do You Do When There Is No Solution?

August 18, 2020

I’m good at my job. I’m not the best Technical Program Manager, but I’m certainly good at what I do. My background is Computer Science and writing.

People bring me problems. And they expect me to solve them. But, I have a secret. There is literally only one problem I can solve.

I can reset a password and unlock an account. That’s it. And that doesn’t come up very often considering it’s not my normal job.

More often the problems are more complex. But, people still bring them to me. The people bringing me the problems know I cannot solve them. They expect me to find someone to solve it.

And I’m good at finding people. I spend much of my time cultivating relationships. Sure, people are responsible who are supposed to help me. But, the old saying is you get more bees with honey than vinegar.

I’ve never understood that saying. Bees make the honey. But, anyway, my point is that I work with many different people. My job is easier if they like me and want to help me.

And I’ve had to solve many problems in my current role. Sometimes, the solutions are easy. (Note the password change.) Sometimes they require a lot of planning. We just wrapped up a six month project to update software on our agents’ home computers. It was long and complex. Fortunately, a brilliant engineer found an innovative solution that worked well.

Other times the problems require communication. I’m the technical link between the client and my company. There are many times I need to communicate back and forth. Sometimes it’s technical information. Sometimes it’s unpleasant information.

So far, there’s always been a solution. But, now what? I have a problem. It’s a technical problem. The Operations team brought the problem to me. I worked on it. I got other teams to help me work on the issue. Everyone who has offered help.

So far, we haven’t found a solution. Operations teams aren’t technical teams. They do a great job of tracking the issues, but they can’t fix it. That’s what they expect me to do.

But, really, now what? I have to believe that if we work the issue long enough a solutions will be found. Must be found. However, I have to think to myself, what I, we, don’t?

Do I have to win every round? Am I only as good as my last victory? My last clever solution? Does it even mean I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing? Am I even good at my job? If I am good at my job, why can’t I solve this?

What about the doubts? Is it Imposter Syndrome?

Should I have meetings? How many times can I meet with Operations and tell them I still haven’t found a solution? Or should I not hold meetings? Am I simply dodging the issue if I don’t discuss it with my Operations team?

And what about my technical teams? How many meetings can I have with them where they tell me they still don’t know the answer?

I remember taking advanced physics in college. Occasionally doing the homework, I would be stumped. No matter how much I searched the material, I simply couldn’t find the answer. And ultimately I gave up.

And that was when I looked in the back of the book. Every even numbered question had a posted answer.

If only real life were that simple.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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  1. Eric S Scott permalink

    Eh, you’re working one of the odd problems this time….

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