I’ve been speaking lately about methodologies and why it’s important to use them. In my presentations I discuss the P.A.C.E acronym, and because I am referencing more and more outside of the presentations, I thought it would be a good idea to throw it up on the blog.
Keeping your composure is a life skill. It’s a skill that many people are never able to develop, and to be completely honest, it’s not an easy skill to obtain. I’ve found that one of the components for keeping my own composure during times of panic is to approach situations methodically. By being methodical I am able to at least present the illusion that I am in control of the situation, and not the other way around. I researched various methodologies and through trials and tribulations, I came up with P.A.C.E which for me was an easy stack of steps, and a reminder to remain clam and steady. Back when I was leisurely boxing, the trainer that I worked with was always stressing the importance of pacing yourself. Burning out in the first 30 seconds of the round is a sure way to get knocked out, and I strongly believe that it applies to everything else in life. First and foremost, set a pace that you can keep. Second, try to at the least maintain that pace successfully before increasing. By keeping my composure I can consistently maintain a certain pose that sends the message (edited for obvious reasons) “You ain’t got no problem, Jules. I’m on the motherfucker. Go back in there, chill them homies out and wait for the Wolf who should be coming directly.”
Problem – First, you should have a problem…and the only way to really assess the situation is to find out all you can about this problem. The problem needs to have a clear definition with as much detail as you can collect. As a manager I particularly liked to know immediately that there is a problem, and shortly thereafter, I liked to be given as much detail about it as possible. If you need to, gather as many of the five “w’s” as you can; who, what, where, when and why. Sometimes, these five pieces of information can make all the difference. During this phase I check the change logs, (if you don’t have a change control process in place, I’d strongly suggest you develop one). I also fire off perfmon and profiler as needed. This phase is all about defining the problem and gathering evidence.
Analysis – The A phase is to analyze the data you collected in P. First, I try to isolate the affected systems. If you can analyze the data from P and conclude (or deduce) the problem areas (think storage, power, query, or people) then you can focus your troubleshooting efforts. During the analysis phase you will hopefully find the cause of the problem, and run some tests for applying a fix. At this point you can communicate your findings, and depending on the chain of command, await orders to execute.
Cure (or Choke) – This is the moment of truth, where you apply your fix, and cure the ailment, or…choke. During C you implement your solution(s) from A, and verify. If you happen to choke, perform a logical heimlich and go back to P. Usually if you choked, then perhaps you overlooked some details, or maybe there is some inconsistency between the testing env and production. Regardless, start over…reset your pace. In this phase you should document any changes that you made, which can be extremely helpful for reverting changes you made in googletastic haste, and for keeping your change control process updated.
Evolve – After you’ve finished the first three phases, you get to my personal favorite, E. In the slide deck you’ll see my definition of Evolve is “To gradually make a stronger more resistant system.” This is for all purposes the definition I’m using for the presentation (which means I dgaf about webster’s). This definition applies to any system that was encountered during the journey, the computers, the servers, the equipment, the humans, and the process itself. Can you make changes that will prevent the problem from reoccurring? Can you develop some sort of early warning system, or an automatic way to respond and deal with the problem right away? Can you provide training or non violent advice to the humans involved so that the problem is avoided in the future? How about the way you applied P.A.C.E? Review they way you dealt with the situation. During the phases of P.A.C.E did you run into any problems? All of the questions come down to making a stronger more resistant system.
So there you are. P.A.C.E as a methodology for keeping calm in the face of certain doom. If you’d like to know more about methodologies and P.A.C.E then check out my presentation Methods Vs. Mayhem, or hit me up.