Rising to the occasion or sinking?

Gayan Perera, 03 November 2020

In professions such as aviation, construction, engineering and medicine where people are constantly under pressure from the expectation to perform there is a saying “You don’t rise to the occasion; you sink to the level of your training!” For some reason, the IT industry overlooks the importance of this.


In the space we play, Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365, rising to the occasion isn’t a “once in a while” situation. It happens very regularly, and you must be on your game. I’ll explain this using a comparison between an event that occurs in aviation vs the Power Platform / Dynamics 365.

Engine failures are rare, but they do happen, so you need to be ready to respond to them. Engine failures are scary! To not scare yourself (as much) when they do happen, you train and desensitise yourself to them in a controlled environment. For example, before every departure, a departure brief is carried out. Part of that brief is to prepare to respond to an engine failure during take-off, shortly after taking off and at a safe altitude after take-off. It goes something like this:

· Engine failure during the take-off roll, throttle to idle, on the brakes and come to a stop.

· Engine failure after take-off below 1000 feet, pick a landing spot 30 degrees either side of the runway and land.

· Engine failure above 1000 feet, consider turning back to the airfield or carry out a glide approach”.

This sounds scary! You’re essentially telling yourself this will happen, this is what I’ll do if it happens. Why do this to yourself you ask? Well, if/when it does happen, you’re already prepared to act, you’re not going to freeze with fear and panic losing valuable time! You have risen to the occasion!

Believe it or not, the Power Platform and Dynamics 365 is like this. Microsoft carry out two major updates to the Power Platform/Dynamics 365 every 12 months, updates occur daily, weekly, new features and products are built into the platform at pace, licensing changes regularly.

These events can cause mini engine failure scenarios. If you’re not prepared to handle an upcoming update, feature or licensing/pricing change because you didn’t read the pre-release notes, you’ve put your users, customers and everyone else reliant on that system at risk! When it happens, you’ll be scrambling!

Another example, the Dynamics 365 CRM workflow engine has been around for a very long time. It’s being superseded by Power Automate. It’s easy to stick to what you know and do things the way you’ve always done it, however, when the old workflow engine is deprecated/removed, you’ll be stuck! Rise to the occasion by looking at Power Automate ASAP! Learn what’s there, what’s not, do what’s possible the new way, discuss how you can move from where you are to where you need to be.

Being ready to respond efficiently requires training and professional development. It’s something that must happen constantly, during work and outside of work. Some of the things you can do to ensure you’re ready:

1. Read blogs, books, and other resources. Even if it’s couple of pages per day, 15mins; overtime it all adds up

2. Try out new features on a side project

3. Be curious - poke and prod the system

4. Challenge yourself to do something a couple of different ways

5. Challenge yourself to update/refresh an old thing with a new thing

6. Engage in the community, see what problems others are having and see if you can solve them (e.g. hang around forums)

7. Sit and pass exams

8. Share your learning and collaborate with others

I believe if we put more effort into training, professional development and upskilling, we will all be able to deliver better results for end users.