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  • Webster’s Rules

    October 26, 2022


    In my almost 47 years in the IT industry, I have developed the following rules to live by:

    1. Nothing is impossible for the one who doesn’t have to do the work.
    2. The root cause of a problem is always something simple.
    3. Never stress out about the things you have no control over.
    4. You can only do what you can, given your time and resources.
    5. When all else fails, blame Chuck.

    Rule #1 came about when I was a software developer for a firm that serviced a niche market in accounting. My boss would come in and give me a new assignment and then get mad when I wasn’t finished in two days, three days, absolute max. He would always say, “It is just a couple of data entry screens and reports; how hard could it possibly be?”. I started writing Rule #1 on my whiteboard in my office, and my boss would come in every day and erase it. I can only assume he knew I wrote it for him. One day he told me very firmly and with much redness on his face to NEVER write that again. Well, here I am 35 years later, still writing and quoting Rule #1.

    Rule #2. It doesn’t matter whether it is programming or network troubleshooting, the root cause of a problem is always something simple. It could be a missing “.” in COBOL, a missing “}” in C or PowerShell, a Cat5 cable not plugged in firmly, or a redundant power cable plugged into an overloaded UPS.

    Rule #3. You have no control over many things. In a network environment, outsiders have no control over the wiring, cooling, is A/V software running and up-to-date, or, for the most part, how much time the salespeople built into the SOW for the project. There is no reason to shorten your life and make your team miserable by stressing out over the things you have no control over.

    Rule #4. Whether it is unrealistic customer expectations or a salesperson who trimmed the hours assigned to the project, you can’t do anything about those items. You, and your team, can only do what you can do with the time and resources given to do the assignment. So what if the customer, salesperson, and SOW only give you 16 hours to do 64 hours of work? You do everything you can in 16 hours and let the salesperson deal with the heat. Rules # 3 and 4 go together.

    Rule #5. Everyone has a “go-to” person they can depend on. I had Chuck. Chuck was a master multi-tasker (when he wasn’t IM’ing, playing games, and drinking a six-pack of extra-large Monster Energy Drinks). I came to rely on him when I needed something done NOW. A “Chuck” type person is also one who can take a lot of joking and kidding around. It is “Chuck’s” job to help relieve the stress you can’t show from Rule #3 and be good-natured about it. Even though we had relied upon Rule #2 to find a solution, we always blamed Chuck. Exchange server crashed? Chuck’s fault. Is a virus running rampant on the customer’s network? Chuck’s fault. Did everything get fixed, and is the network back to running smoothly? I don’t care! It was Chuck’s fault everything happened in the first place.

    For 2022 and beyond, I will update Rule #5 to state: When all else fails, blame Joe Shonk or Guy Leech. They are both friends who can do almost anything and a lot of anything. You have my permission to blame Joe Shonk for anything that goes wrong in the EUC space. You can also blame Guy Leech for anything wrong with scripting, programming, or automation.

    Thanks for reading.


    About Carl Webster

    Carl Webster is an independent consultant specializing in Citrix, Active Directory, and technical documentation. Carl (aka “Webster”) serves the broader Citrix community by writing articles (see and by being the most active person in the Citrix Zone on Experts Exchange. Webster has a long history in the IT industry beginning with mainframes in 1977, PCs and application development in 1986, and network engineering in 2001. He has worked with Citrix products since 1990 with the premiere of their first product – the MULTIUSER OS/2.

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