When do you ask for help?

August 26, 2010 at 4:34 am Leave a comment

How long do you research a problem before you ask for help? One of my old supervisors had a rule of thumb that if you don’t have an answer after fifteen minutes, ask. I’ve heard that same rule of thumb from others recently.

I think 15 minutes is too short. I would put the time at one to two hours. Otherwise you will ask questions that are too simple, or that you don’t know enough about to ask intelligently. Plus you may be wasting two people’s time instead of just your own if you ask too quickly.

This is balanced by the other extreme. You should not spin your wheels for days on a problem before asking for help. You may be going down the wrong road as well. Barking up the wrong tree, as it were.

So I say spend one to two hours researching, googling, and thinking about the problem before you involve others on your team. What do you think?

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