The country doctor approach…

When troubleshooting, common sense and experience go a long way.

Here is a story of my great-uncle, a country doctor in Nebraska.  I often think of him when trying to diagnose and fix a client problem.

This story appeared in my first book, written twenty years ago. While it was aimed at my engineering colleagues, it applies to all types of consulting.

I had a relative who was a country doctor the first half of the 20th century. I once saw the tools of his trade and was touched by their simplicity.

The old black bag didn’t hold a lot (a stethoscope, a thermometer, some simple surgical tools, and a few medicines), but when these tools were combined with  medical knowledge and experience, they saved lives.

It didn’t take CAT scans or MRIs to make a diagnosis and solve a lot of problems. Sure, the latest technology is great, but you don’t need it for every situation.

Remember that old country doctor when troubleshooting problems.  Using a few simple tools, you don’t need a million dollars of test equipment or reams of test data to solve many problems. Like the doctor, you can rely on your own experience, knowledge, and common sense.

Hope you enjoyed the story. Rest in peace, Dr. Metheny.

P.S. Just finished teaching our Troubleshooting Workshop to a group of engineers in San Diego, based on the medical concepts of differential diagnosis (to be covered in a future post.) Always a good time – and the weather was great too!

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