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Open Heart Surgery Lessons Learned for IT Part 1 – Collaboration and Agility

16 Jul
Open Heart Surgery Lessons Learned for IT Part 1 – Collaboration and Agility

Last Friday (July 13, 2012) I got to see open heart surgery.  It is technically called Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) and it was a triple bypass; which means that three coronary arteries were by passed due to blockage.  As a SQL Developer and DBA at the American College of Cardiology I felt like this would be an excellent opportunity to learn about the data I am responsible for collecting and protecting. I learned a lot, and although this post isn’t going to be very technical it’s still something every DBA, Developer, or anyone who works in IT might learn a little from. Of course I will be giving it a DBA twist to keep it in line with the purpose of this blog 🙂

So let me break down some of the things I observed and relate them to how things work in IT or how we can use some of these strategies day to day to make our jobs better. I will separate the posts across the next three days so that people don’t get bored reading one long post.  This is the first of four parts, enjoy.

Observation: One of the most important observations that I made is how dynamic the team was that was operating on the patient. Most of the team members have never worked together. They were on the same page and really had a great flow going. The chemistry was really unbelievable.  They also had different backgrounds.  There room wasn’t filled with ten surgeons, rather there was only one surgeon at the beginning, several nurses, and then different types of technicians.  One of them called a Perfusion Technician. He was not a medical school graduate, or a nursing school graduate! Yet he played an important part in making sure a machine was “breathing” and pumping blood for the patient.The point I’m trying to get at is that the multidisciplinary approach is really vital to getting something done and specialization among team members is very helpful.

Take Back: One problem I see often in the work place is that everyone just wants to do their part and not collaborate with others.  If a person is a developer, they don’t care how the Business Analyst collects requirements and the BA does not care how the code works.  I’m not saying everyone needs to be an expert, but there needs to be some overlap so that the final product is a collaboration of a cohesive team of people that understand the big picture.

Also, another thing I have noticed during my career is that some people want to be involved in everything but aren’t specialized in one this; the concept of “jack of all trades is an expert at none.” In today’s world, you can’t be an expert in everything. It’s good to have vast general knowledge but specializing is important.  Think of this, if the surgeon had to monitor the Heart-Lung Machine instead of the Perfusionist then he/she would not have enough time or focus to attend to the other requirements of the surgery. People should also recognize different skill sets among different peers. One of the things that personally gets on my nerves is everyone referring to people that work with databases as DBAs. It’s not that simple. Or even worse, referring to all software developers as Programmers. A SQL Developer is not the same as a DBA, a .Net or Web-developer although skills can overlap.

I wanted to mention one last thing about Agility and working effectively. By now you’ve figured out that I prefer an Agile approach to team work and project management, I can’t hide my feelings well I guess. Anyway, while the doctor starting to open the patient’s chest, a nurse was working on getting a vein from the patient’s leg. The doctor was also working on getting an artery from the chest for the grafting which would be used for one of the bypasses; the vein in the leg for the other two. The take back from this is that they were working in parallel.  Far too often we work in sequence when it is not necessary. If the doctor waiting for the nurse to finish her part, which by the way was not hindering the doctor’s work, then the process would have taken an extra hour or two. We should be professional and responsible employees that find ways to progress without hindering or delaying the work of others. The “I’m waiting for such and such person” complaint is getting to be far too common.  In some cases there is a need to wait. I’ve gotten emails close to a deadline from people saying they cannot proceed because they do not have access to a certain database. Usually they do have access but are either unaware or too lazy to check. They could have just asked 🙂

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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Other

 

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