Common operational misconceptions

Owen DeLong owen at
Fri Feb 17 18:59:10 UTC 2012

This reminds me of what I think is the biggest root misconception of the 20th and 21st centuries:

Rapid step-by-step training can replace conceptual education on the fundamentals.

In other words, we have moved from the old-school of teaching people why things work and how they work to a newer school of teaching people how to complete specific tasks. This has had the following negative effects, IMHO:

1.	When the only tool you have is a hammer, you try to mold every problem into a nail.
2.	When you only know a procedure for doing something and don't understand the fundamentals
	of why X is supposed to occur at step Y, then when you get result A instead of X, your only options
	are to either continue to step Z and hope everything turns out OK, or, go back to an earlier step
	and hope everything works this time.
3.	Troubleshooting skills are limited to knowing the number of the vendor's help desk.

I once worked with a director of QA that epitomized this. It was a small company, so, as director, he was directly responsible for most of the tasks in the QA lab. He was meticulous in following directions which was a good thing. However, when he reached a step where he did not get the expected result, he was limited to telling the engineers that the test failed at step X and would not make any effort to identify or resolve the problem and would literally block the entire QA process waiting for engineering to resolve the issue before he would continue testing. Worse, he would not test independent pieces of the system in parallel, so, when he blocked on one system failing, he wouldn't test the others, either. Further investigation revealed that this was because he didn't actually know which systems were or were not dependent on each other. He was so completely immersed in the procedural school of thought that he was literally unwilling to accept conceptual knowledge or develop an understanding of the theory and principles of operation of any of the systems.


On Feb 17, 2012, at 8:13 AM, Mario Eirea wrote:

> I definitely understand and agree with what you saying. Actually, most my friends are over 50 years old... I do agree with you on the generational statement. My argument was that many people over 35 have no idea what they are doing, and some under 35 do know what they are doing. On thing is for sure, experience goes a long way. The importance is knowing the fundamentals and putting it all together (a skill that has been lost in recent times)
> I have a lot to say about the current generation of people growing up in this country, but that's a whole other thread in a whole other list. :-)
> Mario Eirea

More information about the NANOG mailing list