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TBT: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

This article was been published more than 6months ago. The information contained herein may be outdated.

This post originally ran in July 2008. I am reposting it now, as part of my throwback thursday project, to give some of my older quality posts some love. The lessons outlined in this article are as relevant today as they were when the article was originally written.

Improvise, adapt, overcome has for a long time been a mantra within armed forces around the world who, when faced with gruelling challenges and little or no epuipment, have improvised to face the challenge, adapted to the challenge and lastly overcome the challenge.

The same attitude is necessary in IT support. Support departments around the world will tell you that they are constantly under-staffed, over-worked, and lacking both training and equipment, be it software or hardware.

In my experience, the most successful support technicians are the ones who do the best with what they have. A can-do attitude, and a willingness to face any problem head on, rolling with the punches, and asking for more on the other side.

Here’s what these terms mean to me:

Improvise:
In terms of IT Service and Support, improvisation means working around a problem, finding a temporary fix. Practical example: A user calls in, and is unable to print. You set the user up with a different printer as a temporary fix, solving the more immediate problem.

Adapt:
Adapting to the problem means finding a temporary or semi-permanent workaround, using what tools are available, as well as online resources, to work around the problem permanently, though not resolving it. Practical example: A user calls in, and tells you their anti-virus solution is not working. You install a different anti-virus solution.

Overcome:
Overcoming the problem means finding a permanent fix, resolving the problem. Practical example: A user reports being unable to create PDF documents. You install PDF-creating software.

The last part of the title of this article is also drawn from the military. A training exercise is not called an exercise, but an evolution. In terms of IT Service and Support, evolve means not only improvising a temporary fix, adapting to a problem and providing a permanent work-around or overcoming a problem, permanently fixing it, but at the end of it having learnt from the experience, and even documenting the solution for future reference.

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