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Rainy Days and Mondays Get Me Down (With apologies to the Carpenters...)

Originally published September 23, 2010

In a former company, I used to travel quite a bit. Typically, a trip would end on a Friday. Then I would go into the office the next Monday, only to find that my entire email infrastructure didn’t work. I had a new password that no one had told me about, and the way to log-on to the system was completely changed. I had to spend the morning figuring out how to use the system that was the lifeblood of my business and communications.

Fast forward to today. My wife complained to me that some of the software that she regularly uses just never works on Mondays. She spends half of Monday morning getting back to where she was on Friday. And this happens consistently.

Is there something mystical about Monday morning? Is there any reason why all the bad stuff happens on Monday? Is there a Monday troll at the bridge that doesn’t let us pass until he has interrupted the smooth flow of our lives?

The answer is – yes. There indeed is a Monday troll at work here. There is at least one very real reason why Mondays (and in particular Monday mornings) are noticeably bad times to get any work done. That reason is that a lot of system changes take place on the weekend. For many people and for many businesses, the weekend is a relatively quiet period. The weekend represents an opportunity to go into the system and make changes that otherwise would be disruptive. In many organizations, when it comes to the Internet and to other day-to-day systems, the weekend represents an opportunity to perform remedial and maintenance work that otherwise would cause disruption of the workers of the corporation.

So naturally, the systems programming organization comes in on the weekend and performs the changes and maintenance to the system. And on Monday – as the world wakes up and business resumes – the users of the world discover all the details that have escaped the maintenance team. And, unfortunately, there are usually a lot of those types of errors. What often happens is the maintenance people don’t understand the full implication of the changes they are making. It falls to the first users of the system on Monday morning to make the real discovery of the system implications resulting from maintenance and system changes.

How do these early morning users of the system make those discoveries? Like a person walking in a perfectly dark room at night, the system malfunctions are discovered by bumping into them. And that hurts. The users make the discoveries of what the systems programmer has forgotten by merely using their system as they have been trained – except that now the system doesn’t work. Or it least it doesn’t work like it used to work.

So there really is a Monday morning troll waiting for those early morning Monday users. Life on Monday morning really is different than life at any other part of the week.

Particularly irksome are the changes where the system programmer proclaims that the changes that have been made are going to make things “better.” In case after case, when the system programmer gets the system back up and running, it operates exactly as it did before the changes. The system isn’t faster. There are no new functions that have been added. There are no fancier screens. But the system programmer says that things are “better.” When questioned directly, the system programmer – for his life – cannot tell you how things are better but still insists that things are “better.”

And on a Monday morning, this is just one more irritation you have to put up with.

Maybe – if we were smart – we would start work on Monday afternoon and let other workers perform the tedious task of suffering through the chaos resulting from the changes that were made on the weekend.

  • Bill InmonBill Inmon

    Bill is universally recognized as the father of the data warehouse. He has more than 36 years of database technology management experience and data warehouse design expertise. He has published more than 40 books and 1,000 articles on data warehousing and data management, and his books have been translated into nine languages. He is known globally for his data warehouse development seminars and has been a keynote speaker for many major computing associations.

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