How to waste two days by NOT asking the right questions.

I am am managing a development team in Jordan.  My Program Manager there speaks excellent English (proper English, unlike what I speak!)  But that doesn’t mean we don’t have the occasional communication problem.

Earlier this week my Flash development team informed me they needed root access to my server to install a Flash presentation on a PHP page.  They had full read/write access to the folder I had set up for them, so I couldn’t understand why they required root access on my Linux server.

We went back and for with me asking them, “Tell me the exact technical reason you need root access?” and them replying, “We have to be root to install the Flash”.

Long story short – I thought they wanted access to log in to my personal server as the root user.  I didn’t want to allow that for a LOT of reasons.

But they didn’t.  They needed access to the ROOT folder of the website they were working on!

While I felt very relieved that this was something I could fix in two minutes I also realized how stupid it was of me to assume they meant the USER “root” and not a root folder. 

So sometimes it’s not all about asking questions – but asking the right question, or perhaps just rephrasing the question in a different way.