What is Troubleshooting?

ethnic male drivers coping with trouble in car

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

Next Posts:
Simplified Troubleshooting Overview
Step 1: Troubleshooting Overview
Step 2. Determine which output(s) are incorrect.
Step 3. Figure out which input(s) affect that output(s).
Step 4. Verify that those inputs are as expected.
Step 5. Analyze the path(s) from input(s) to output(s).
Step 6. Check all connections.
Step 7. What are the devices in those path(s) that change the data?
Step 8. Eliminate the devices that could not cause this output.
Step 9. Test the remaining devices.
Step 10. Repair/Replace faulty device(s).
Step 11. Fully test the system.

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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