Getting Stuck

January 30, 2021

Recently I got stuck debugging one of those bugs. It was one of those bugs that defies the laws of the universe. It was not possible.

I yo-yoed. I walked away. I threw everything I could at the bug, but I still had not cracked it.

So I asked for help. I shared my screen with two co-workers. I explained everything I knew, and everything I had tried. They asked questions, made suggestions, and together we solved the problem in that meeting. Group debugging is a powerful technique.

But, I don’t think that if we all shared a screen the first time I examined the bug it would have been solved in a single meeting.

The value of group debugging is in differing perspectives, but shared focus. As the area of focus tightens, the value intensifies. The smaller the haystack, the more effective (and less frustrated) each additional person becomes in finding the needle. As you debug, both in pursuit of the truth and in preparation for explaining your progress to others, work to tighten the focus.

Ask for help when you get stuck. But first get stuck.