In my days as a Service Delivery Manager, we occasionally faced situations where “the customer was down”, and before the advent of affordable modern monitoring systems like System Center, I’d often find this out when engineers came to me saying things like “we need to drop everything and fix X!”
Sometimes, you find, after throwing resource at a problem, that the root cause was not only nothing to do with us, but not even something over which we had any control.
However even in those situations; you don’t want to do the equivalent of standing in front of a customer with arms folded, saying “not our problem mate…” – we empathised with the customer, and wanted to get them to a potential solution as fast as they could, with our help.
So we created three ways to categorise the information we had to make decisions upon, right from the first call:
- Facts – supported by evidence – you can make decisions based on facts
- Assumptions – not proven, but based on our experience – a decision made on assumptions needs to be validated, fast
- Opinions – driven by feelings and fear – ideally don’t make decisions based on opinions, but do respect the emotions behind them when thinking and communicating
So, quickly, we could parcel up what we “knew” into three pots; facts to make decisions on, assumptions to explore and validate, and opinions to manage. Three tasks that can be delegated, owned and tracked.
Of course, there is still a human judgement to be made on when you have enough facts to start acting. This judgement itself is driven by a mixture of facts, assumptions and opinions of your own.