What is Troubleshooting?

This post is part of a series describing the generic, high-level troubleshooting process. Stay tuned for future posts.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “troubleshooting” as “to operate or serve as a troubleshooter.

troubleshooter n.

  1. a skilled worker employed to locate trouble and make repairs in machinery and technical equipment
  2. an expert in resolving diplomatic or political disputes : a mediator of disputes that are at an impasse
  3. a person skilled at solving or anticipating problems or difficulties

To most people, equipment (of whatever kind, from a light switch, to an assembly line, to your smart phone) is just a “Black Box”. They understand that if I give it “X” input, I get “Y” output. That is the way it should be, no one can, or needs to, understand how everything in their life converts “X” to “Y.” Everyone also recognizes that when they get “Z” as an output, something is not right. The job of a troubleshooter is to determine what is wrong inside of the “Black Box” that is causing the “Z” output, and understand how to correct it.

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