Thursday, March 12, 2009

Repeatable Process Worth the Effort

So, I might be stating the obivous here, but taking the time to create, develop and review a process to get a task done is always going to provide benefits, make things more efficient and produce better results. Take for instance, upgrading databases or applying patches that is something that will consistentantly be part of the life of a DBA. What if the deadline to get the upgrade done very quickly and there was a need to show results as soon as possible. So, is it showing results by developing a process, and putting together a test plan?
Isn't that some of the problems we have when faced with deadlines? We might have to upgrade a database much quicker then planned so the steps or a test plan may not be documented as needed. Then if wanting to handover the upgrade to another team member or team for patching in production, there is time wasted "guessing" what was done in the test environment because there wasn't time to at least document the steps or create the process.
Even if there are only a couple of databases this time around, there will be future upgrades and patches to be applied. A repeatable process, a plan that is documented can go a long way for current and future tasks.
With the IOUG Security Patching survey results, I have been ask recently about what it takes to get the patches out there, what are some best practices. My thought is a repeatable process. We can collect best practices on upgrades, adapt them for our environments, create test plans around the applications and other pieces of our environment, throw in a little bit of documentation and then before we know it, a repeatable process. The trick here is to setup this process the first time around while not putting the deadlines at jeopardy. Honestly it might take working more hours in a day, but not having to go through the whole effort each time will be well worth it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Black Belt Attitude

I started martial arts recently, and our instructor was describing to us the how important attitude is during class and outside of class. The questions were posed do you have a "Black Belt Attitude"? Do you have a "Can Do" attitude? Black belts have a positive attitude and they can get it done no matter what it takes. So, I can look at class with the thought that I am just a white belt, there is no way I can do these things yet that he is asking, or I can be there trying every move, being enthusiastic that I am going to get it and setting my goal for the black belt.
The attitude doesn't stop with class. This is something that can easily be carried over to other parts of life, especially work.
A positive attitude at work goes along way for how things get accomplished. Taking ownership for the task at hand and to do it to the best of your abilities, setting goals to develop new skills and keep other skills and knowledge current, willing to take on new responsibilities or even ones that others don't want, these are all part of that "Black Belt" attitude.
There are tasks I don't want to do and people I may not want to deal with that pull me away from my goal of developing this attitude. There are projects being cut, people being given less incentive to do their current tasks, but this should push us even more to do what we can with what we have. Those of us who stay positive and work now maybe a little harder and smarter will be reaching that goal even sooner.
Just like I can't go from being a white belt to a black belt tomorrow this attitude also can't happen over night. There is training that is needed with in both technical and mental skills. Developing the attitude of "I can do this" and learning to maintain that good attitude is a key part to the mental area. Along with this training, focusing on a goal is helpful. My goal is to earn a black belt, learn something new and conquer a challenge. I am also not alone, so when my bad attitude surfaces there are people who can assist. It is good to have accountability for meeting goals and staying on track. Having people I can learn from and encourage is important and good attitudes are contagious. For martial arts, I have a class to go to with my girls, but for work I have IOUG, user group network. I think that this is a main reason that I have been active in the user group community and enjoy sharing and learning from others. So, I encourage you to get involved in a community to help sharpen your skills and have the accountability to do an attitude check.
Just image what would happen if we all came to work with a "Black Belt Attitude". The encouragement, positive outlook and the willingness to get things done could make projects happen that you never thought possible.