Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Who makes the call?

So I was hit with an interesting quandary today about how we should handle a problem. I am thinking most of you can relate to this so I am going to throw it out there and see what you think. The problem itself was easy to solve and the details of the problem are not as important. I have had this situation occur on a couple of occasions so I feel comfortable in leaving it some what generic.

Someone comes to me with an issue or a problem and asks what I think they should do. In some cases they even have some ideas of what they would like to do and are just sort of running it by me, which I truly find flattering. The problem is that in some cases I don't agree with the solution or the solution I provide is not what the person wants or is able to do. In a recent case, a person came with a problem and I suggested the fix. Although the person agreed that this was the proper way to fix the problem, that would cause a rebuild and additional testing things of that nature so they were more sort of looking for validation for their work around. Now, it wasn't this person's fault or even their want to do the work around. Given their druthers, they would have liked to fix the problem as well, but as the situation was playing out, this work around seemed to be the only course of action.

In another case, someone came to me with an idea of how they wanted to implement some new data for a new project. I thought it was overkill for what was needed and they acknowledged that, but saw this as an opportunity to push a technology they believed in. I actually agreed with the technology, I just didn't agree with pushing it into this project. So here is the question. Where does our responsibility lie? If you were or have been in my situation, what course of action did you take and upon reflection, was it the proper stance to take.

For instance, should I be the one to say, look, you can't put in that work around, just fix the problem. I don't care if you have to rebuild and they have to test again, there is a right way and wrong way and that is that. The problem there is that I am not that guy. I understand the business needs and lack of resources that companies face in these situations and I completely understand it in our situation. Having said that, I do think that there are times to bend and times not to, but I am not sure that it is up to me to make that case. Is it up to me to stand the ground that says I can't allow this, if you want to do it, that is fine but I won't endorse it and risk being labeled as not being a team player? Or do I voice my displeasure with the course of action being taken and then bite the bullet and help make the work around as good as it can be even though I am fundamentally opposed. The same could be be said for the other example, if that person gets their technology pushed through should I then help them make that the best implementation that it can be or do I put my foot down. Then of course there is always the CYA approach where I stand back and say, OK go ahead and do that, but it isn't my butt on the line when it doesn't work, or it blows something else up or comes back to haunt us in some other way. Of course that always has the added benefit of coming back to you to fix in the end no matter what anyhow.

So I am curious how you have handled it this type of situation in the past. Feel free to comment anonymously or to email me if it is long. I will keep your identity secret if you so desire, but I would like to be able to post responses as it may be helpful to a wider audience than just I.

As for me, I have done a couple of things. In some cases I do bite the bullet and help implement something I am opposed to in order to get the thing out the door or to get a customer back up. I do try to add in that we have to have the real fix in as soon as possible, but I have no way of driving that, so I think I do it because it helps me sleep at night. In other cases I have stood for what I thought we should do and in the end it worked out in that I ended up making a better case so people went the direction I was recommending, but I had conceded that if they went the other way, I would help implement it so it could be the best that it could be.

Lastly, as I sit and read this it really doesn't seem like that big of a deal either way, but there is something about putting a fix in place that you know is wrong. It affects you mentally I think. Especially if you are proven correct. Alas, there is always the other side as well, the side in which you were wrong. The side which means you make a big deal out of it being the wrong way, having the fix be implemented despite your objections, and it works wonderfully. No one wants to be that guy either.

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