In the mid-90’s, I was working in the Engineering Technical Support Group for Anheuser-Busch. The leader of the group was evangelizing a very structured aproach to trouble-shooting. Regardless of the problem, the same process would be used. It was a somewhat Newtonian method:
- Determine the end points of the problem (it lies between here and here)
- Get data to find isolate the problem between two new endpoints.
Regardless of the problem, if you could obtain the data, this method should provide results. He was having a hard time selling the solution because of the initial time investment. At the same time, I was bored with some of the problems that were getting escalated to me. In an
argument discussion one day, I presented him with the following:
It was originally just a sketch on a piece of paper. My theory is that although there is an initial time investment, the structured method will lead to a solution. For simple problems, you are better off using the “shotgun approach” to trouble-shooting.
I told him that I didn’t want to work on any problems to the left of where the two curves intersected. The difficulty is identifying which problems warranted the structured approach. My boss loved the curve and immediately added it to his PowerPoint presentations. He also agreed that I shouldn’t have to work on level 1 tech support calls (OK, I think it would help if you plugged the monitor in.)
[Cut to Saturday Night]
At bad movie night on Saturday, one of the A-B guys told me that they were still using the “Hofer Curve” to settle arguments and evangelize the structured trouble-shooting method.