Trust, But Verify

Ronald Reagan Photo by AG/KEYSTONE USA / Rex Features ( 507863au )

Deana, one of my newest operators came rushing into my office. Her main job is to field helpdesk calls, but occasionally she goes out into the field to assist with troubleshooting. She confessed, “Guys, I think I messed something up. A nurse called and said her nursing application got locked out. She didn’t know the password so I reset it.” Chet and I screamed in unison, “NO!!!”

Last year, another new operator ran into the same issue. One of their first moves is to reset the password. Unfortunately, in this case, it would render nursing workstations across multiple floors useless. Chet and I along with a few others scrambled for a few hours resolving the issue.

Deana felt guilty and wanted to stay past her shift to resolve the issue. Being ever the optimist, I told her to go home and not worry. We should be able to change the password back, restart a few workstations and be done with it. We learned that she had attempted to call the subject matter expert, but she did not answer. She took it upon herself to fix the problem. Had she called Chet, myself, or anyone else for a second opinion, she would have heard about the fiasco from a year ago. She is quite passionate about IT and wants to earn her keep. But in this case, her passion got us in trouble.

In the middle of troubleshooting, my second shift operator, Roger, came in shaking his head. He was frustrated and almost mumbling. “I’m getting tons of calls. She called me so I reset the password.” Chet and I screamed again, “What?!?!” We quizzed Roger and apparently, an hour earlier, Deana went to assist the nurse with the locked up application. She called Roger to help reset the password. Roger mumbled, “I had a bad feeling. Why would we reset the nursing application password? She’s been here long enough. But she insisted I reset the password.” As we continued to get waves of calls. Roger seemed to be trying to absolve himself of the crime. He continued muttering throughout the afternoon, “That Deana… She should have known better.”

Ultimately, my manager and other members of the team went around to each workstation to resolve the issue. My initial fix of changing the password back and restarting a few workstations did not work. The damage was done as the application lock out spread like a virus.

Before Deana left, she asked Chet and I, “Why didn’t you warn us?” Chet fired back, “What do you mean? You never asked? How can we warn you about every little scenario?” Looking back, Deana should have at least reached out to one more person to discuss the situation. Her impatience and lack of diligence got her in trouble. The same can be said for Roger. However, in working with Deana, she can be a little demanding and forceful.

I am left wondering, “Are we to blame for not properly warning operators to not reset this specific password?” Hours later, my manager sends out an update to the entire team. “No one is to reset any password that does not belong to the user calling in the problem. You need authorization from a senior level engineer.” In the words of President Ronald Reagan “Trust, But Verify”.

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