I recently stumbled upon Lisa Dobson’s Oracle Newbies blog. Firstly, although I have never met Lisa, I admire her for two reasons. Firstly, she is about to give a presentation at the UK Oracle User Group in Birmingham. I am a good deal older than Lisa and the prospect of presenting to a large number of ‘grumpy old men’ would fill me with absolute dread.

Secondly, I really like Lisa’s rather self deprecating, modest statement on her profile

I’ve been an Oracle DBA for 3 years, so still consider myself a’Newbie’!

In my various jobs, I have met several people working with Oracle with less than three years experience who are variously described (either by others or themselves) as gurus and would take serious offence if anyone ever had the temerity to describe them as a ’newbie’.

Some of these people are indeed experienced, knowledgeable, approachable, flexible, adaptable and eager to learn and perhaps, just as importantly, to share their knowledge and teach others.

Others are undoubtedly very clever people but are somewhat narrow minded in their outlook and suffer from tunnel vision. These types are normally the self-appointed wizards but viewed as insular and unapproachable by others. They will improve performance almost instantly by adding or dropping an index, or gathering statistics but fail to communicate the fact to anyone but merely bask in the glory and yet higher, even more elevated status.

One aspect of my job that I enjoy is that I often visit a client for a short period (2-3 days) so I am blissfully ignorant of the politics, history and personalities involved. In addition, I simply do not have the time (or access) to use email to communicate. Instead I find I get more achieved quicker if I meet people face to face or call them on the telephone to find out information.

This can lead to some interesting situations. Often, the same questions couched in a slightly different way from a fresh face can lead to a different response. For example, a simple request to patch Oracle to or to simply start the OEM Agent that has been repeatedly requested but ignored (or denied) for many months can miraculously become feasible almost immediately.

It is surprising how many so called technical issues actually turn out to be about communication.