I was doing my afternoon walk in the neighborhood and was almost back home when I was stopped by an old man. “Excuse me, can you help?” said the old man who seemed to be in his 70s, dressed in his blue pajamas and flipflops on the street. He was holding a mobile phone in his hand. “Can you help me? Do you know how to fix this phone?” he added. I stopped and asked what the problem was. He said his neighbor’s phone is not working and asked me to check it.
I took the phone and it read “No Sim” on the screen. I directly thought a simple restart will most probably fix the problem. However, I asked the man first: “Is there a lock code? I want to restart the phone”.
“I don’t know” he replied. “Come with me to ask her” referring to his neighbor. I was hesitant to go with the man so I took the chances and locked the screen and then unlocked it to find out there is no code. I told him to hold as there is no code and I could restart the phone then I did.
The phone was restarted and the same message appeared: No SIM! My second thought was probably they forgot to credit so the SIM expired. Yes we have such a thing in Lebanon where you have to add credit on a monthly basis else you lose your number.
Once more time I couldn’t get an answer from the man. He said he doesn’t know if it is or was credited. Another dead end! My last chance to resolve the problem was to check if the SIM is not placed correctly. Of course, I needed a pin to open the SIM compartment which I didn’t have while exercising of course. The man again asked me to come to his neighbor to get a pin. I had no choice!
We walked some few meters then entered a building. He calls his neighbor out who lived in an apartment on the ground floor. Now that the owner is present, I asked whether the account is credited or not. Surprisingly, the woman, supposedly the owner, knows nothing about crediting! I told her I need a pin to check the SIM card of the phone. She said its ok I will ask my son to fix it for me when he arrives. Apparently, she was afraid I mess up her phone. “Of Course!”, I said, and handed her the phone. The second I did, Whatsapp messages started delivering. The phone got connected to her Wi-Fi network. “It is working now! Excellent!” she said!
I was hit by her comment. I figured out my whole troubleshooting steps were void and irrelevant. I directly knew what was going on and my whole thinking process was wrong. I asked the woman if she uses her phone outside her house, or if she could call landline numbers. I got back the expected answer: “No! I can only use it at home.”
It turned out apparently, that this woman has a phone “device” just for Whatsapp use on WiFi! No SIM, no calls, no LTE, nothing! For some reason, the phone was disconnected from WiFi and the restart I did solved the problem. Or maybe their internet connection was off for some time then was on again. Who knows?
I left the place to continue my walk and started thinking about my thinking process. The “silly” support questions asked by first line support operators came to my head. Is your printer connected to an electric socket? Is it turned on? Is there paper? etc…
It is generally assumed in Lebanon that if you have a phone, you have a SIM. Some kids are given phones with no SIMs for use inside their homes but never did I think an old woman who have a “smart” phone without a SIM. This assumption I made, got me wrong all the way in my case.
To reflect that into business analysis and project management, one should never assume something no matter how trivial it is. When eliciting or gathering requirements, even if you have one percent probability of something, ask about it. It won’t hurt 🙂
There are so many methods, tools, and techniques for the different aspects of business analysis and project management. Preconceived ideas in the mindset of an analyst or project manager can make them fail badly most of the time.
Keep an open mind for everything! Ask the most trivial questions!