As enterprise networks become ever more complex, IT teams face a difficult challenge when it comes to diagnosing and addressing technical and operational issues. Modern IT systems are often an amalgam of networks, servers and applications that are managed by largely independent teams with their own processes and tools. That can make responding to something straightforward — like end-user complaints about poor application performance — an involved and vexing problem that is as much about managing group dynamics as tracing packets and pings.
In recent years, the War Room model has become a popular approach to large group problem solving in IT as well as other organizational settings. Sometimes called Tiger Teams or extreme collaboration, the basic approach of the War Room is to round up a group of people who don't always work together, put them in one place and set them to finding a solution to a critical problem. The premise is that in-person interaction and a singular goal will lead to new thinking, and a quicker, more effective solution.
First utilized by software development teams, War Rooms have now become accepted practice for generalized IT teams. Unfortunately, War Rooms may not work as well as advertised, if at all.
As Toxic War Rooms — a recent research paper from Seattle Pacific University — points out, there are four common pathologies that call into question the effectiveness of the War Room approach.
1. They lead to defending and deflecting rather than problem solving
Ask most IT people and they'll tell you they have more than enough work to fill their days. In a War Room setting, they will often be reluctant to take on more responsibilities if it means delaying or neglecting the work that is already on their plates. Since War Rooms are often tense, finger pointing is fairly common. And since each person has their own tools and monitoring systems, it's hard to get everyone on the same page.
2. They make teams less productive
As mentioned above, everybody has their own work to do. When they're in a War Room that "real" work is not getting done. And as the old adage goes: "To a hammer, everything looks like a nail." That means War Room participants often approach problems from their own narrow perspectives, leading to a lack of coherence. With so many individual ideas and voices, it can actually get in the way of individual thought processes.
3. They are reactive and not proactive
War Rooms are often set up to deal with problems only after they've reached crisis stage. The extreme nature of the problems — and resulting pressure to fix them — leads to poor decision-making.
Moreover, by its very nature, the War Room assembles people from different domains operating with limited information. This adds to the likelihood of reactive decision-making in the short term and doesn't help with long-term problem solving either.
4. They promote groupthink
People working in groups can often lose themselves to the group. They start thinking alike, defer to dominant voices and lose their own individual creativity and sense of responsibility.
In a crisis, near-term solutions often crowd out potentially better longer-term alternatives. And in the interest of group harmony, people self-censor rather than challenge the dominant wisdom. That can lead to situations where groups continue to pursue an alternative even when it's becoming increasingly clear that they're headed in the wrong direction.
Belinda Yung-Rubke is Director of Field Marketing for Fluke Networks.
A long-running study of DevOps practices ... suggests that any historical gains in MTTR reduction have now plateaued. For years now, the time it takes to restore services has stayed about the same: less than a day for high performers but up to a week for middle-tier teams and up to a month for laggards. The fact that progress is flat despite big investments in people, tools and automation is a cause for concern ...
Companies implementing observability benefit from increased operational efficiency, faster innovation, and better business outcomes overall, according to 2023 IT Trends Report: Lessons From Observability Leaders, a report from SolarWinds ...
Customer loyalty is changing as retailers get increasingly competitive. More than 75% of consumers say they would end business with a company after a single bad customer experience. This means that just one price discrepancy, inventory mishap or checkout issue in a physical or digital store, could have customers running out to the next store that can provide them with better service. Retailers must be able to predict business outages in advance, and act proactively before an incident occurs, impacting customer experience ...
Earlier this year, New Relic conducted a study on observability ... The 2023 Observability Forecast reveals observability's impact on the lives of technical professionals and businesses' bottom lines. Here are 10 key takeaways from the forecast ...
Only 33% of executives are "very confident" in their ability to operate in a public cloud environment, according to the 2023 State of CloudOps report from NetApp. This represents an increase from 2022 when only 21% reported feeling very confident ...
A large majority of organizations employ more than one cloud automation solution, and this practice creates significant challenges that are resulting in delays and added costs for businesses, according to Why companies lose efficiency and compliance with cloud automation solutions from Broadcom ...