Duct Tape

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Back when I did end user support as my primary job I'd often ask myself "if there were no helpdesk tickets, what would I work on right now?"

The list I'd come up with was generally fairly short and changed each time I found myself pondering it, typically because the needs of the environment changed quite frequently, but it would also contain a few regulars - patch this, upgrade that, move that thing from there to there. Stuff that wouldn't have an immediately beneficial impact but should probably happen. These are all good things to do and I encourage them to be part of the daily workload of a team.

The dynamic entries in the list were always something to do with making something better, getting rid of an annoyance or frustration. These are the things that do actually have immediate ROI and I would argue they should have time spent on them even during high ticket load periods but often find themselves being ignored because... Well, it ain't broken. It's just not great.

The issue is, as hinted at, this list changes often. Sure you can keep notes, an ideas board or submit a ticket, but when you do finally get an hour to look at the list, what's on it doesn't seem that critical.

I just read an older post on rachelbythebay.com that summarised this and explains what it means in five words:

Look for the duct tape.

Read it (and whilst you're there, if you don't already consume that content take a look at some other posts - very valuable information and opinions contained within)

Essentially, find the things people have whipped up a quick workaround for and are using and fighting with now, whether that's within your team or another. Spend some time making that thing better, or resolve the problem at source if possible. You'll not only make that person or team happy, you'll also actively solve a now problem that will probably directly impact success, however that's measured.