Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's Your "Bottle Of Wine On Top Of The Refrigerator"?

It's a strange title, I know, but stick with me...This morning as I was getting my kids ready for school my wife put a few recently purchased bottles of wine on top of the refrigerator for me to put away in the cabinet which 12 inches above it but too high for her to reach. I opened the fridge to get creamer for my coffee and as I was pouring it in the cup, SMASH! One of the bottles fell off and shattered all over the floor (It happened to be a bottle of red wine which made it even messier!). In an instant plans for the morning changed - arrangements were made to get the kids to school, have me work from home in the morning, and most importantly clean up the mess that was growing bigger by the minute.

I like to apply life lessons to the workplace, so let me abstract this a bit: Someone does something with the best of intentions but it goes terribly wrong and ends up causing plans to change and wasting time\money. It's a safe bet this has happened to all of us in IT at least once. Could my wife have gotten a stepstool so she could reach the cabinet and put the wine where it belongs? Sure, but it would have taken more time and she was already running behind trying to get out the door to go to work. Besides, putting the bottles on top of the fridge met the objective of getting them off the countertop where they were taking up space. Could Joe Developer figure out what permissions their app really needed instead of just assigning their app's login db_owner rights? Sure, but that would take more time and the project deadline is looming. Besides, getting the app deployed meets the objective of getting it off their plate where...I think you get the point.

Although it happens - for whatever reason and probably far more often than we might want to admit - good lessons can be learned from bad experiences. I bet my wife never puts a bottle of wine on top of the fridge again, and in the unlikely event one does make its way there I know I won't wait for the accident to happen - I'll fix the problem right away.

Take a moment to ask yourself what your "bottle of wine on top of the refrigerator" is. Maybe it's maintenance plans, or backups, or that account that has ALTER rights that everyone knows but no one talks about. Once you've figured it out, don't wait for an accident to happen - make a plan and fix it ASAP!