Yesterday’s Papers

Who wants yesterday’s papers?  Nobody in the world. — Mick Jagger, 1967.

One thing I’ve heard from a lot of DBAs is that their daily work consists continually of solving the same sets of problems over and over again.  Some people are satisfied with this, and others even spend time teaching others how to solve the same problem over and over again too.  I’ve even seen managers encourage this behavior — “let’s share the knowledge on how to do that”.

A big concern I have with this is that problem solving skills can atrophy if they’re not used, which starts to lead to laziness and guessing when confronted with new problems.  It also appears to lead to “the search for an expert” — someone for whom the new problem is “yesterday’s news”.  I think some of this has led to the humorous BAAG (Battle Against Any Guess) party started by Alex Gorbachev.

To me, real creative value consists of eliminating not only the current problem, but also the recurrence of the problem.  Devising a way of having the problem solved automatically, or better yet, preventing it from occurring again shows real creative talent.  Moving beyond that to imagining future problems, solutions and preventative processes is even better.

Sometimes I wish there was a way to teach, quantify or encourage imagination and creativity.  I know, I’m sure there are thousands of experts in “mind-mapping” and other “creative techniques”.  For me, imagination comes when I’m able to clear my mind and not be confronted with continuous minutiae.  I’m thinking about designing an “Imagination Helmet” — something that allows you to block out distractions.  Heck, I bet I can sell them for $20 a pop on HSN.  Maybe I’ll even build an enhanced version with chromatherapy and soothing new age music :-)

Imagination.  Try it when confronted with your next problem.

When thinking about this post, the Rolling Stones song from above kept running through my mind — my father used to sing it around the house when I was a kid.  He’s a veritable expert on music from the 60′s, having won contests in ’62 and ’63 that the local radio station used to run on predicting top 10 lists.  He was amused when I asked him the name of the song that he used to sing and told him why I wanted to know. :-)

One limitation I’ve found about the Internet today is the paucity of pop-culture history — it’s like the world didn’t exist prior to 2000….

Posted in Skills. 1 Comment »

One Response to “Yesterday’s Papers”

  1. Dominic Brooks Says:

    I often find that I come across problems that I’ve seen before. Trouble is that it’s not so often that I can remember the answers, just a nagging sensation of familiarity at the back of my mind….
    Or is that just getting old – I need a more reliable and accessible knowledge base.

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