The Proliferation of I.T. Voodoo…


When I say “voodoo” in this context, I’m really talking about bullshit explanations for things based on guesswork, rather than reasoned argument built using facts and investigation.

It’s really easy for voodoo explanations to proliferate when people are starved of facts. There are several ways this can happen, but a couple of them that spring to mind and really piss me off are:

  • A user reports a problem. You fix it, but don’t give a meaningful explanation of what you have done. As a result, the user is left to “make up” an explanation to tell their superiors, which then becomes part of the folklore of that department. When you fix a problem, you need to provide a technical explanation of what you have done for those that can cope with it and a more layman friendly version for those that can’t. If you don’t do this, you are starting to dig a really big hole for yourself. Users will make shit up that will haunt you forever. Next time you want to process that big change it will be blocked because, “Bob says that we always have a problem when you reboot the payroll server on a Tuesday if the parking barrier is locked in an upright position. Today is Tuesday and the parking barrier was locked in an upright position this morning, so we don’t want to risk it!” Once this shit takes hold, there is no going back!
  • A user reports a problem.  You don’t do anything, but it mysteriously “fixes” itself. You need to make sure all parties know you’ve done nothing. You also need to suggest someone actually finds the root cause of the issue, without trying to start a witch hunt. Unless you know why something has happened, people will make up bullshit explanations and they will become department folklore. etc. See previous point.

For so long I.T. has had a poor reputation where user engagement is concerned and it *always* generates more problems for us than it actually does for the users. Get with the flippin’ program!



PS. Can you tell I’m pissed off about something? 🙂

Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

6 thoughts on “The Proliferation of I.T. Voodoo…”

  1. Ah yes. Also this:
    “You mean the app screen not fitting my display isn’t caused by you backing up the database?
    We need external consultancy or to send everything to the cloud!”
    I think what we need is better users.
    Preferably the kind that doesn’t spend 90% of the work day playing candy crush on FB…

  2. This reminds me of the time when I did 3rd line support for my team, and whenever a particular type of problem occurred, I’d have to get one of the developers – who happened to be nicknamed “Netto” – to do the fix. Imagine my surprise some months later when a user rang me up and asked me to run “the Netto process”!

    At least he was amused by it *{;-)

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