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2014-03-30 16:02:43

A Software Support Engineer must Mention their Concern Early to
their Colleagues

Recently I needed a colleague to grant me access to something at
work. I was going to formally request permission for the specifics of
the request. I’m a knowledge worker and my industry is the
Information Technology industry, where we need to know as much
information as possible in order to make the best decision. So I
researched and thought it over all the details of my request, for
about an hour, and wrote up my request and sent it to them.

The response came quickly. It was a single sentence asking me to
research more, find the best possible solution, and get back to them
with a more refined request.

Hold it! I already researched this a lot. What did I miss? Why do
I have to research more? I would learn this a few days later. Here’s
the rest of the story:

A few days later, it was my housemate’s turn to take out the
trash. I had noticed that yesterday morning the trash was full but
hadn’t said anything. This morning I saw it was too full, and told
them that it was. The response came immediately. It was a single
sentence asking me if I had tried compacting the trash with my hand
and then seeing if it was still too full or not. Hold it! I missed
something again and it was the same feeling as with my Software
Support Engineer colleague.

What I had missed twice is that I needed to earlier tell the other
person of my concern. In the former case, I should have researched
just one bit, found a decent request, written it up and sent it. In
the latter case, I should have mentioned the trash was full on the
first day, not the second.

What I found is that very often, in a Software Support Engineer
environment, the other party will respond with questions and
suggestions before taking action. And so as to not waste time, its
best if I also take this iterative approach and involve the other
person early and maximize the value of the other person’s

And actually, the end of the stories is that in the former case,
we found a better solution such that I didn’t need access to the
something at work and so I was not granted access. And in the latter
case the trash really was full (not over-full — I pushed it down
with my hand and it went down to the normal "full" level)
and we split the work of tying up the trash bag and taking the trash

Conclusion: Best results happen when A Software Support Engineer
lets the other person know the concern early!

*2014-12-05 edit: previously published at

[2020 edit: Moved to: https://investorworker.com/2014/... .html.]