Good ProcedureProcedure and Technique

One of the things I do when I workout, or drive alone, is to listen to podcasts. One of the podcasts I subscribe to is the Art of Charm, which they describe themselves as providing social skills training for Top Performers. In short, they talk about all kinds of self-improvement stuff from social skills, entrepreneurship, business, and fitness. This time the podcast was about procedures vs technique.

During one of my drives to work, I was listening to episode number 505, with Karen Baetzel. In that episode, she discusses her career as a Naval female aviator, one of the first. She also discusses communication, leadership, followers, and other constructive ideas she learned in the military. It’s an informative episode, and I would encourage anyone to listen to it.

One of the topics Karen mentioned in the podcast was the difference between technique and procedure. She defined procedure as a standard regulation that can’t be arbitrarily changed. It’s the policy, or rule, governing how an action is carried out. Whereas a technique is a way, an individual carries out a procedure in any manner they choose, so long as they stay within the guidelines of the process.

Why it’s important

Having been in IT for nearly 20 years and a DBA for the last several, this struck a chord with me. We are all very aware of change management, and how change affects our environments. We should all be adept at documenting how we make these changes as well. One of the things I have noticed, though, is there isn’t a standard on how to create documentation. I’ve worked for organizations where the quality of documentation fluctuates wildly from department to department. While I understand the technique portion, I think it gets applied too liberally at times. In this case, how documentation gets created.

Procedures, policies, and in some cases, work items should be thoroughly documented so that anyone can walk right in and take over. However, a document standard/template should be created as an organization, and each department should do their best to meet that standard. The technique can vary with writing styles. If a team, or an organization, needs access to historical information, the last place that information should be is in a mailbox of someone who is off or no longer with the organization. Storing this type of information shouldn’t be left to technique.

SQL CowbellIt’s amazing how time seems to fly, especially between blog posts. I’ve known I needed to post a blog for a while; I’ve even thought of a few different topics. Alas, the execution has not been good on my part. One of those things I hope to do a better job of going forward. So originally, this post was supposed to happen in January. It was going to be “Oh, hey, it’s a New Year and blah, blah…”. Ya, we saw what happened to that. That being said, I’m going to include that in this post as well as talk about my recent ITIL training and other goals.

2016 and 2017

In 2016, my career goals were just to work on becoming a better SQL DBA—nothing too out of the ordinary. I focused on the fundamentals, I spent quite a bit of time working with Availability Groups and even got some time helping to refine our production monitoring. I created some SQL scripts to automate some of the build steps. Through all of it, I continued to learn via the PASS virtual chapters, Ozar daily emails, Safari Books sub, and any other resource I could find. Unfortunately, I have discovered you can be inundated quickly with information overload if you’re not careful.

I’ve also come to understand that are things I am more interested in than others, which I guess is to be expected. I am more interested in learning about performance tuning, SQL development, and automation than other aspects of SQL. Maybe because I have spent lots of time doing the general administration stuff in my career that backups, restores, and routine troubleshooting are less appealing, but still significant.

In 2017

I want to focus more on development stuff. As well as bring my SQL dev skills up above average. I also want to learn more about Powershell and Python, and my foundations in C# to a higher level. Maybe down the line, I will move more into the development side of SQL.

Another goal I have been working on is getting a better understanding of the business side of things, which includes learning more about management. Do I want to be a manager? I don’t think so, but at the same time, I’m also at a point in my career where I might want the option. Whether or not that is in the cards, is neither here nor there, I just think it would help me be a better SQL DBA/Developer. It is essential to develop leadership qualities and interpersonal skills.

Which is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to take a three day ITIL course. The certification was just a bonus. I wanted to have a better understanding of where management was going. Which reminds me, I have a couple of books to read that were passed out to managers recently.

Other Goals

Other things I want to work on going forward, is to participate more in the SQL community: Twitter, TSQL2SDays, blog posts, and go to another SQL Saturday. While I was in Tulsa, I managed to become a regular at the local SQL User Group, and I learned a lot from those guys. I’m hoping to make a few meetings here in Denver when I can, and the topic is appealing.

I’m also hoping to make it to SQL Pass one of these years; I wish that it wasn’t so expensive. I am also struggling to convince the wife of going on SQL Cruise. Although I think in a year or two, I will attend Ozar’s Senior DBA class.

Going back to certifications, I have even considered pursuing my MCSE. Do I think it’ll help my career? No, not especially. At the same time, I’m starting to come around to the notion, if you’re passionate about what you do and want to elevate standards, as well as show your commitment, then why wouldn’t you submit for testing? I’ve long thought that as IT matures, certifications will become more critical. I know others will disagree.

Finally, going forward, a primary goal of mine is to post a blog at least monthly, but I’m hoping for more. This blog needs more Cowbell.