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Friday
May182012

IT Myths: What Button Did I Push?

You might find you have an acute case of the "What button did I push?" syndrome. When something goes wrong with technology, whether it's something as simple as your laptop suddenly bursting into a ball of fire, or as complex as not being able to get your sales projections spreadsheet to sync with your DropBox account, the first impulse is usually to ask yourself "what did I do wrong?". The implication is that since you're the only one using the system, and it was working at some point previously, something you did wrong must have caused the problem.

This reasoning works for simpler devices- like your dishwasher, for example. When your dishwasher breaks, it's usually something mechanical and therefore easier to visualize and grasp, even if you're not a dishwasher repair man. The guy fixing your dishwasher can take out the burnt out motor or the bent up spoon that got stuck and show you exactly what went wrong and who's to blame.

I wish I could reach inside your iMac and pull out the dried clump of oatmeal your toddler shoved in the DVD drive, but most technology problems aren't that simple, regretfully. Technology is more similar to the living fuzz on the unwashed plates inside your broken dishwasher than it is to the dishwasher itself. Always updating, installing, maintaining- your gadgets are going through massive changes on a frequent basis, even when you feel like you're barely using them or doing anything different. The sheer amount of parties involved make it almost impossible to assign blame.

As IT professionals, we don't always have the luxury of asking what button was pushed or who pushed it to cause such a catastrophic failure. Most tech problems are a cocktail mixed from so many moving parts that spending the time to untangle the who/what/when/where/why is too costly, and often an irrelevant question. It's more important to ask questions like: "What measures can we take to solve the problem quickly and efficiently", "Is this problem likely to occur again in the future?", and "Does it make financial sense to do further research and take preventative measures?", rather than "What button did I push?".