mangosteen: (allwork)
[personal profile] mangosteen
When I was in professional services, one of the things that I noticed I did was I ran a very specific list of diagnostics at the beginning of a customer meeting.

  • Who is the most important person in the room?

  • How technical is this group of people?

  • What kind of mood are they in?

  • Do they appear to be in a hurry, or are they settling in for the long haul?

    • It's a good proxy for "Do they want to be here?"

When I was doing wedding photography, and I was touring the venue the day before an event, I'd run through:

  • How light/dark is the venue?

  • How is the event going to proceed through the space?

  • Where are likely places to take the formal shots?

  • What are my restrictions on movement through the space?

  • Are any of the relatives with us on the walk-through, and are they taking pictures of whatever I take pictures of?

    • That last one is important because those are the people most likely to stand in front of me while I’m trying to get shots.

Assumption: Anyone who has enough experience in a field runs through a diagnostic list to start doing triage on approaches to getting the job done.

Query: What is one of the lists that you run through for your hobby/profession? For bonus points, explain why a couple of the more obscure points are relevant.

Date: 2015-07-19 08:20 pm (UTC)
rosefox: An anthropomorphized mackerel tabby wears glasses and holds paper and a red pen (editing)
From: [personal profile] rosefox
* How long is this thing I have to edit?
* What type of editing am I being paid to give it? (Not the same as "what type of editing does it need"!)
* Who's the audience?
* How dense or complicated is it? Will it require an unusual amount of effort to understand? Will I have to rephrase things so they make sense to the audience?
* How clean-of-typos is it? Even if I'm not being paid to clean up typos, are there so many that they'll get in the way of big-picture edits?
* What's my deadline? Can I reasonably expect to get it done by the deadline, or do I need to request an extension? How should I arrange my work time to get it done by the deadline?

I don't think anything here is obscure, but let me know if I'm wrong. :)
Edited Date: 2015-07-19 09:27 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-07-19 09:09 pm (UTC)
thornsilver: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thornsilver
*Does the person who needs me to do this know anything about how accounting works?

*Does the person who needs me to do this have any idea how does this business work?

*Does the person who needs me to this actually know what they want?

*How much data do I have to process for the result?

*How much do I have to double check the data available?

*What is the software/hardware I have to work with?

Date: 2015-07-19 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I work in a different area, but it's surprising how similar this list is to mine.

Date: 2015-07-19 09:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Right, so for these purposes we can take my profession as "writing reports about business and economics" (and other things, but that's immaterial). I start with:

1. What have they told me they know about the subject? (If I'm writing for a total n00b, I need to write differently than if I'm writing for someone who knows all this and just can't be arsed to write it up themselves.)
2. What are they really needing to know? (They might not have the vocabulary and/or theory to explain what they need to know, and sometimes take circuitous routes to communicating something there's actually concise jargon for in economics-land. Translating between normal people and economists takes up a lot of my time.)
3. Do they want words, pictures or both?
4. What are they doing with it afterward?
5. What do they think they already know, and how am I going to tell them that's wrong?

For extra bonus points, I need to do all of this before I actually give them a price, since these things affect the amount of detail they need and how much effort I need to put into presentation.

Date: 2015-07-19 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"What is the problem you are trying to solve?"

Date: 2015-07-19 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Step 1. Analyze the higher headquarters plan or order
Step 2. Perform initial intelligence preparation of the battlefield
Step 3. Determine specified, implied, and essential tasks
Step 4. Review available assets and identify resource shortfalls
Step 5. Determine constraints
Step 6. Identify critical facts and develop assumptions
Step 7. Begin composite risk management
Step 8. Determine initial commander’s critical information requirements and essential elements of friendly information
Step 9. Develop initial ISR synchronization plan
Step 10. Develop initial ISR plan
Step 11. Update plan for the use of available time
Step 12. Develop initial information themes and messages
Step 13. Develop a proposed mission statement
Step 14. Present the mission analysis briefing
Step 15. Develop and issue initial commander’s intent
Step 16. Develop and issue initial planning guidance
Step 17. Develop COA evaluation criteria
Step 18. Issue a warning order

Date: 2015-07-19 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
All of which is step 2 of this:

1. Receipt of Mission
2. Mission Analysis
3. Course of action (COA) Development
4. COA Analysis (aka Wargaming)
5. COA Comparison
6. COA Approval
7. Orders Production, Dissemination, and Transition

Date: 2015-07-19 11:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For the yarn business:

1. Is this a regular customer
if yes
1a. do they tend to need a lot of help
1b. do they tend to spend a lot of money

if no:
2. do they appear confused
2a. are they clutching a project with a panicky look in their eyes?

3. what's the dominate color they are wearing?
3a. are they happy and comfortable in their clothes

4. did they come in with a bored looking person or people

and then I ask "can i help you find something" or "how can I help you"

Date: 2015-07-19 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
- who in this room is going to ask the genuinely stupid questions, what are those questions, and how do I short-circuit them?
- who are the handful of people in this room whose opinions are relevant, what sort of mood are they in, and what sort of approach will best push them toward the right answer?
- what ulterior motives have been brought to this room? What are the real constraints, not just the ones that have been explained to me? Is there funding sufficient for the right answer, or is the half-assed answer the best I can hope to win?
- who is lying to me, and about what?

Date: 2015-07-19 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Custom work; garment construction:

First and foremost: Have they actually looked at my website? (it's surprising how many people haven't; they just contact me without taking the time first to find answers to their questions). If they have looked at my website, they will already have ideas of what I do, how quickly I can do it, how much it might cost, etc.

If they have not looked at the site, I politely suggest that they do. There they should find many answers to their burning questions.

Assuming that they have looked at the site, I wish to know:

* when is their wedding date? when is their desired delivery date? I can learn a lot about what sort of client they may be to work with by the length of the time period between these two dates and their rationale for said length.

* what exactly are they looking for in a wedding dress, style-wise? Is it something I've already designed and costed (and thus we have a number/price already established) or are they looking for custom-made? Are they prepared to provide a jpg or image of what they are looking for? If not, I require that they go off and find pictures that describe what they want, for I am not a mind-reader.

* what are their priorities for this dress? Custom-fit? Eco-friendly? A costume or design that no one else seems to be willing or able to offer? Quick?

* what is their budget?

* what is their flexibility? (timeline, scheduling, locality, dress design elements)

* if they are not local and cannot come in for personal measurements/fittings, do they have a person local to them who can manage fine-tuning and tweaks if need be?

Sometimes I think that my questions are simply a variation on finding out what their priorities are in terms of "Good, Fast or Cheap - pick two". I need to know which two matter to them before I decide to take them on.

Granted, I am planning to prioritise local clients over long-distance relationships now that I live in a densely-populated metro area. This is shifting the questions a bit as time winds on. Frex, asking how able they are to come in for personal fitting/alterations has become an earlier question in the timeline.
Edited Date: 2015-07-20 12:33 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-07-20 02:19 am (UTC)
ext_8707: Taken in front of Carnegie Hall (bofh)
From: [identity profile]
*Is the information stated in the trouble ticket accurate?
*Is the information stated in the trouble ticket sufficient to begin investigation?
*Do we have an outage that would explain the problem?
*Does the problem fall within the purview of my abilities?
*Has the ticket filer overstated the urgency of their case?

Date: 2015-07-20 02:36 am (UTC)
ext_155430: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
When I have a new horseback riding student, I assess their level of physical fitness/stamina, their attention span, their level of diction, their ability to follow directions, their ability to do more than one thing at a time, and probably a lot more about their learning style and ability, so I can teach them effectively and keep them as safe as possible.

Date: 2015-07-20 08:40 am (UTC)
vatine: Generated with some CL code and a hand-designed blackletter font (Default)
From: [personal profile] vatine
My day job involves running large-scale services (either backend systems for web services or web services). When we take on a new service, we have a fairly comprehensive checklist, but I shall condense it.

  • Does the serviec have an SLA? (if not, why have we been asked to take care of it?)
  • What is the demand driver(s)? (for a classic web service, this is, usually, "requests per time-unit") How does the demand correlate to resourec requirements?
  • How many pages have the service generated recently?
  • What internal metrics are exposed?

    • What internal metrics do we need exposed to measure SLIs and ensure we're within SLOs?
    • Are the metrics aggregated correctly?
    • Are alert thresholds even close to appropriate?

  • Is the overall architecture suitable for needs?

None of those feel obscure to me, but I guess the focus on metrics may feel alien to some.

Everything is a song cue

Date: 2015-07-20 12:42 pm (UTC)
mizarchivist: (Serenity)
From: [personal profile] mizarchivist
Reference/genealogy -

sift that out of the novella of an email.
It almost always boils down to what are they really looking for.

Toddler damage control-
-fluid levels
-fuel levels
-bio break required/taken lately?
-how much screen time has happened in the last 24 hours
-has there been adequate run time/how's the weather
-how distracted /unavailable have I been?
-how tired am I

Date: 2015-07-20 01:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Assumption: Anyone who has enough experience in a field runs through a diagnostic list to start doing triage on approaches to getting the job done.

Bad assumption :D I'd say that certain types of folk definitely do this (using Myers-Briggs as shorthand, probably the Thinking/Feeling axis), but the conscious list processing isn't universal (the end result, yes, but the method, no).

Date: 2015-07-22 06:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think I agree with this comment. I don't consciously do this sort of list based processing. That said I will often find myself asking "what are you rally trying to do?" sometimes iteratively. In different situations I might ask "how do these things communicate?" or "what things are between here and there that could be causing this?" both of which are usually asked iteratively. So maybe this isn't as far from Mangostein's original hypothesis as I'd thought, but I still don't think it's the same either.

Date: 2015-07-20 03:22 pm (UTC)
dpolicar: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dpolicar
Basically, my job is to run the checklist... that is, I don't actually do the thing, I just write the detailed plan for doing the thing.

I tried to write it down once. I stopped at item 100 or so, because I hadn't even scratched the surface. But at a very high level:

1. Who wants this work done, and what do they actually want?

2. For each answer to 1, what does that look like end-to-end?

3. For each step in 2...
3a. ...what performs the step
3b. ...what input does it need
3c. ...what output does it generate?

4. For each answer to 3b, repeat 3. Iterate as needed.

5. For each answer to 3b/c, where is it used and what does it have to look like?

6. For each answer to 3a...
6a. ...what changes to that element are needed?
6b. ...can we consolidate multiple narrow answers into one broader one?
6c. we already do something similar enough that it's worth rethinking step 2?

7. For all of the above, what might go wrong, and what do we do then?

8. For all of the above, is saying this out loud potentially dangerous, and what should I say instead if so?

Date: 2015-07-20 03:44 pm (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
IEP meeting:
- have I met and talked with all the participants before?
- which participants do I trust to be looking out for my kid rather than a checklist?
- for how long has my kid worked with this teacher/specialist?
- what things are they suggesting?
- what things have been tried before that didn't work?
- which suggestions are ABA under a different name?
- what tests did they do?

...and that's just off the top of my head...

Date: 2015-07-20 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't really have lists like that for my sewing work, but I certainly do for parenting.

Before going out in the morning:
- both she and I are breakfasted
- both are dressed
- both have had the hair pulled back from our faces in some way
- sunblock if applicable
- snacks and water packed
- clean diaper for her, empty bladder for me (I know the latter is on everyone's list, but I never had to make a conscious effort to remember it until I had a kid)

For her bedtime:
- bedtime milk
- teeth brushed
- night diaper
- pajamas (unless she opts out, which she sometimes does in the summer)
- two or three bedtime stories
- "snuggle and talk about the day"
- two or three songs
- "Mama pick me up"
... not that she would let me forget any of the last few. :)

I like my jobs, both of them, very much. Sometimes I run out of patience somewhere around the second bedtime story, though.

Date: 2015-07-21 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OK, I'll play with data analysis.

Let's take as given all the steps to making sure I know what is wanted out of the analysis/what the hypothesis is.

1) Do I understand the data source (have I used it before)? (If no, see second list below on working with new data sources.)

2) What is the correct data test to prove/disprove the hypothesis?

3) Have I worked with all data elements necessary to run that data test (or if still working on #2, have I worked with all data elements I think might possibly be necessary to run that data test)?

4) Have I run that type of data test recently, or do I need to brush up on my technique or learn how to do the test in the software in question?

And then for new data sources:

1) Have others (that I trust) run similar reporting/analytics from this data source? Are they available for a short training with me?

2) Is there a data dictionary that I trust to be up to date?

3) Is there somebody from the system side who could answer questions about where data comes from/transformations of the data?

4) Does this data need to reconcile to any other data source?
4a) Does this data reconcile to that other data source? If unknown, what would it take to perform that reconciliation?

Date: 2015-07-21 06:38 pm (UTC)
drwex: (Default)
From: [personal profile] drwex
It's VERY profession-dependent. I've read studies of various medical situations where typically checklists are not used despite good evidence that introducing them improves outcomes and reduces costs and problems. It's a culture thing - doctors don't like to be questioned whereas no good pilot would ever even start an engine without first running down a checklist.

My profession doesn't have a lot of checklists. We have best practices and patterns, but what makes someone good at what I do is being able to figure out which of the myriad of options best fits the situation. It's one reason I compare myself to a (stage) roadie.

Date: 2015-07-25 06:14 pm (UTC)
jducoeur: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jducoeur
Hmm. My professional-meeting one is similar to yours, so let's instead do "Running an SCA dance":

* How many people are there? (The energy level for a ten-person dance is *wildly* different from forty-person, and that affects which dances I choose.)

* How experienced are the dancers? Has there been a formal pre-announcement of how much teaching there will be? Do I have ringers in the crowd who can help the newer dancers? (All affect the amount of teaching.)

* Is there a Pointy Hat in attendance? (Usually a minor consideration, but if they have a favorite dance, I'll work it in.)

* Is there live music? If so, what pieces do they know well enough to perform reliably?

* What time of day is it? (If evening, assess how long I probably have before folks start to drift out.)

* How *old* are the dancers, on average? (Enormously affects the "when do they start to leave" question, as well as the energy level.)

* What is the general mood of the crowd?

* Does the crowd have expectations about authenticity or period? (Some crowds actively want SCA-invented dances, or later-period English Country; some actively disdain them.)

* What is the floor like? (That is, the physical floor. Wood vs. concrete makes a huge difference in choice of dances.)

* What are the acoustics of the hall like? Can everybody hear me? Am I going to need to blow out my voice?

Interesting exercise. I don't think I've ever thought about it in these terms before, but I do all of the above reflexively, after teaching SCA dance for 25+ years...

Date: 2015-07-26 12:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

  • What in God's name did I just step in?

  • Does it feel moist?

  • Is it near a litterbox?

  • Does it smell?

  • How far do I have to hop to get to the nearest sink?

  • Why did I adopt eight cats again?

Date: 2015-07-28 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
When I was at IBM Rational, we had a big focus on Kepner-Tregoe (KT) Resolve process. This was originally designed to get managers through decisions more effectively, but it applies very well to technical support.

I imagine a piece of steno paper. On the left will be aspects of the problem, and on the right are things that are not aspects thereof. This latter part is amazingly important. If the customer says "it started with two machines, but now..." or "it happened once to almost every Linux box, then a few more times to five of them", then I know a lot more about what won't fit as a solution.

I used to use actual steno pads, but they've gotten too rare and I can't email them. I wind up using carriage returns and semi-obscure characters to make subsections.

Next I boil down the problem to a single sentence: the object and its defect. This will become the subject line for the ticket. After that I can get into specifics of is and isn't: what happens in order, when does/n't it happen, how often does/n't it happen.

When we don't have an answer for one of the hopscotch boxes in my mental steno, then we come around to fill them.

When there is an actual problem, I get happier. I get to poke a problem, learn what my customer does or doesn't know, refine a presentation, or simply show the customer what I'm doing (usually, I'm setting logs to debug then grepping). Other times:

  • The customer expects X, but the product was never built to do that. Now I'm just managing expectations, talking the customer to a different point.Customer wants X, but we can provide W and Y so that some other company's X has less work ahead of it.

  • I just need to present a how-to: the product can totally do X for you, and here are steps (with my job, this usually means writing a sample script and beating it up on a couple examples).

  • I get the very annoying "rival product found X missing but yours didn't: therefore your product sucks and I am telling a bunch of sales people." I then have to send my elaborate and canned explanation of how our product does that differently, adds factors you never thought of before, then tests against only the factors you asked of it -- and can do it for multiple operating systems instead of just that shiny one.

Years of doing this has sped up a lot of the mundane in my life. I can build quick steps lists instead of letting things be a jumble. I can also see where telling another person what to do will only become an argument, so instead I stand back. I can see that certain actions will make me angry, so I reassess what needs to happen when. Often the problem is just "I'm cranky but scheisse needs doing."
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