T-SQL Tuesday #56: The right way or the old way?

TSQL2sDay150x150It’s time for another rousing T-SQL Tuesday. This month’s T-SQL Tuesday topic is about “assumptions” and is brought to you by Dev Nambi (Blog|@devnambi). You can learn more about T-SQL Tuesdays by checking out Dev Nambi’s blog where he gives you some history about T-SQL Tuesday or by following the #tsql2sday hashtag. I’ve been following T-SQL Tuesday for a while and am excited to participate for the first time, so without further ado…

In my office, as with most around the world, there are a lot of assumptions being made all the time (See what I did there? An assumption about assumptions). Developers have certain assumptions about DBAs, DBAs have assumptions about sysadmins, sysadmins about network administrators, and so on. However, the most crippling assumption that every team seems to make at one time or another is that the way a process or procedure is currently done is the right way and the best way simply because it’s the way it’s always been done. I would venture to say that you could go to any company, anywhere, and find a process or procedure that has not changed in many years. Then, if you ask why the process or procedure is done this way, you would get a shrug of the shoulders and a “that’s the way it’s always been done.”

I had a boss that would tell a story about his mom to illustrate this point. He told that whenever his mom would cook a ham, she would take the ham out of the package, cut the ends off, put it in her large baking tray, and place it in the oven. He assumed that cutting off the ends of the ham was part of the process until he became an adult and learned this step was unnecessary. One year, he decided to ask his mother why she always cut off the ends of the ham, and she responded, “I don’t know; that’s the way my mom used to cook it.” Taking the investigation further, he then went to his grandmother and asked her why she cut off the ends of the ham. She replied, “I had small oven and an even smaller pan; that was the only way to make it fit.”

As corny as his story may be, it still is an excellent example of doing things the same way just because that’s the way they have always been done. I’m not saying that old processes or procedures are wrong, or even that they always need to be changed. I simply saying that sometimes we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if the way we are doing things is “the right way” or just “the old way.”

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