I was a troubleshooter for most of my 34 years in the telecom industry. They called me a "switchman", "central office technician", "communications technician", and a couple of other things over the 34 years but my job was to troubleshoot. Equipment would fail or service would degrade and I would be be expected to determine why and then correct it.
I didn't do this alone, of course. There were support centers and co-workers who could assist me. Sometimes their assistance helped, sometimes it didn't, and sometimes it hindered. I worked mostly in the offices, on site, during my 34 years but also spent a couple of years as support and surveillance in a support center.
I was pretty good at troubleshooting. I found it to be interesting and challenging when a trouble arose. There's a great amount of satisfaction involved in solving a problem. The tougher the problem, the more satisfaction in solving it.
What I did involved a lot of particular knowledge but troubleshooting, in general, doesn't. It helps to have some knowledge about the subject of the problem but I don't think it is always needed. Troubleshooting is simply problem solving. And we all do this every day. According to Wikipedia , there are many methods one can use to solve problems. That's according to experts.
I think there are only a few, maybe two, fundamental methods. The others are simply variations of the basic methods. I once read a Psychology Today article (in the 70s I think) on problem solving that said there were two basic methods:
1. Logical - A methodical, planned, determinate system whereby steps are taken, results analyzed, and the process flows from there.
2. Intuitive - Non-linear, hunch based system. Sometimes called SWAG (Scientific Wild Assed Guess).
Okay, that's not exactly how it was described. I have always used a mixture of the two. I would follow a logical plan until my first coffee break. If no positive results by then, I would try the intuitive method. By the time the second coffee break approached, desperation would have settled in and I would be ready for what we called "The Shotgun Approach".
No, we did not actually use a shotgun. Though I was tempted more than a few times. It entailed swapping large numbers of parts in groups with another unit of the same type, testing between each swap. No attempt is made to associate said parts with the trouble at hand. These parts, by the way, are circuit cards similar to the cards within your PC or Mac. Done properly, this method actually works and helps determine the faulty part or parts. Done poorly and the result is two pieces of equipment in trouble.
If none of these approaches worked, we tried the "Passover" gambit. In other words, we passed it over to the next shift. This last one seldom worked because we invariably got the same problem passed over to us the next shift we worked. And, more often than not, it had become even worse.
When a problem was handed back to me in this manner, I would spend hours just getting the equipment back to the same condition in which I had left it. It would be about that point that I would usually stumble across the solution.
The above methods do not work in relationships.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago