Too many Hows & not enough Whys

I was watching a Holmes on Homes marathon on TV the other day when the ‘behind the scenes’ episode came on. I was more or less listening while doing some other things, but then I heard something that made a lot of sense to me.

Mike Holmes stated that he learned from his father by being asked why all the time.His father would constantly ask: “Now, why did I do it that way?”
This method of teaching forced Mike to think rather than just do.

In respect to SQL there are a lot of great “HOW” questions out there to answer:

How do I make this query go faster?
How do I configure my server?
How do I become a DBA?

But I find there is a critical part missing in these. Where is the “Why?” portion?

More often than not the initial question is answered, while the rest is left to go.

I have had clients in the past that implemented changes, without asking the critical WHY. The question was “How do we make this faster and more stable”, the answer was “Do this” and it was done. AS far as I could tell there was no “Why do this specifically” asked, because if it was the change would not have been implemented in these scenarios. I try very hard when presenting solutions to indicate why. I am not the be-all, know-all in  SQL and its configuration, and I don’t believe anyone is or can be. But everyone that makes a suggestion should be able to back it up with a solid answer to the ‘Why?’ question.

Next time you are looking for the answer to a “How?” question, and find an answer online, check to see if there is a good “Why?” answer to it as well somewhere. On a blog it may be in the comments when someone asks. If it is nowhere to be found and you can leave a comment, don’t be afraid to ask that questions either. Heck,  I hope that if  you see me post a “How?” without  a “Why?” you will let me know!

For those that don’t know about Mike Holmes and the work he does, check it out here

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