Training and Failure

The image above is a screenshot from the My Expectations slide. It’s part of my From Zero to SSIS course. You can learn more about this course (and others) at the Enterprise Data & Analytics Training page. The part in the box is important: “This is a safe place to fail.” I share that in the first hour of the first day of training because I’ve designed half the labs in From Zero to SSIS to trip up attendees.

Why would I do such a thing?

One way we learn is from our mistakes. Failing is a potent and sticky way to learn. We also learn from watching others perform tasks and reading, but there’s an emotional response to failure that actually helps us remember what caused us to fail – provided we keep at it until we figure it out.

Throughout the course I mention Andy-isms I’ve collected (and invented) during 45 years of developing software. One saying is: “SSIS is a software development platform that suffers some from having the name of a popular relational database engine in its name.” Another is: “All software is tested. Some, intentionally.” That’s actually on a t-shirt that I own – Christy made it for me.

Software development is a career path riddled with potholes – and some sinkholes. Success in development has more to do with mindset than anything else – including talent and persistence. To quote Shakespeare:

All things are ready if our minds be so.

– King Henry, Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3

“Now What?”

I’ve been to training and learned a lot only to return to the office Monday morning, open the software, and then say, “Ok. Now what?” Has that ever happened to you?

In From Zero to SSIS, we spend the first two days focusing on development, on building SSIS packages. Those first two days are broken into three sections:

  1. Introduction to SSIS Data Flow Development
  2. Introduction to the SSIS Control Flow
  3. SSIS Data Flow Hands-On Labs

Introduction to SSIS Data Flow Development consumes the entire first day. The four lab exercises for Day 1 specify almost every click and selection, setting and label. One could walk away from that first day with a foundational understanding of how to develop SSIS Data Flow Tasks.

Introduction to the SSIS Control Flow takes place the morning of the second day of From Zero to SSIS. The highlight of the morning occurs just before lunch when students compete for cash and prizes (except there is no cash and there are no prizes…) playing the game What Will SSIS Do? WWSD is a lesson in task orchestration using SSIS Precedence Constraints.

SSIS Data Flow Hands-On Labs begin after lunch on Day 2 of From Zero to SSIS. The hands-on labs are more advanced. I did not write down every step. For hands-on labs, I’m there with you should you get stuck, but I expect you to try to figure out how to solve the problem. My rule is: Try for 60 seconds to figure it out on your own. If you’re stuck after a minute, speak up. We will share your screen and walk through the solution together.

The course is designed to focus on SSIS Data Flow Tasks for a full day and then – intentionally – distract you with Control Flow topics (including a game, for goodness’ sakes!) before diving into next-level labs. Why order the course in this way? Why not simply move to the hands-on labs on the morning of Day 2?

I want you to experience that “Now what?” moment on the afternoon of Day 2.
I want you to fail some.
Where it’s safe.
I want you to get used to failing because you will fail in software development much more than you will ever succeed.
It’s impossible to succeed without first failing.

I would be remiss in training you if I did not teach you that failure is a normal and necessary step to success.

Peace.

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Andy Leonard

andyleonard.blog

Christian, husband, dad, grandpa, Data Philosopher, Data Engineer, SSIS and Biml guy. I was cloud before cloud was cool. :{>

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