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Messy Network Cabinets and the Broken Windows Theory

 

by Alexander Geng / 17.5.2017

The Broken Window Theory was introduced by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in 1982 and is a criminological theory. It states the effects of urban vandalism initiated by a broken windows or even -  simple littering.

It is a fact, that if a window is broken and it does not get repaired in short time, it is very likely that soon other windows will be broken. After the first broken window not only windows will be broken but people will also break into affected houses continuing the vandalism, stealing and breaking stuff. Short time after, houses nearby will also be affected until the whole district is sunken in chaos.

Many years before the broken window theory was published, Philip Zimbardo a psychologist from Stanford tried an experiment with two cars. Both were left abandoned with the hood open, one in Palo Alto and one in the Bronx. Within hours the car in the Bronx was attacked. First the valuable things like the radio were stolen, then, the windows were smashed until it was used by kids as a playground. All within 24 hours.

The car in Palo Alto on the other hand was not touched for a week until Philip Zimbardo himself started to smash it with a sledge hammer. Soon after, other people joined in for the demolition.

This theory not only works for vandalism but also for littering. In example, if you are smoker and you just finished your cigarette you are more likely to just throw it on the streets if there are already other cigarette butts lying around.

I hope that there are neither cigarette butts nor vandalism in or around your network cabinets but i think you are getting where this is going to.

If you have a neat and tidy set up cabinet, the next technician is very likely to pay as much attention to detail and is using the cable management as it is intended to. But sooner or later someone has to work on it in a stressful situation. In example the Boss is having a very important meeting and the network connection for his laptop stops working during his presentation. You’ll get a call from a very angry Boss which you just asked for a pay rise.

The hell you’re going to carefully put that replacement patch cord in the cable management. It has to work asap and you accept compromises in that very moment.

Your colleague after you, subconscious notices your untidy installed patch cord from before. Now the Broken Window Theory comes in place. The chance that he will install his cable untidy as well, rises. It rises with every single patch cord that is installed in that cabinet not they way it should be. In almost no time you end up with cable spaghetti all over, making it impossible to replace or install new equipment without tearing everything out.

Therefore the most important thing to keep a network cabinet like it looked on the first day, is to keep it tidy in any given situation. Use the cable management like it is intended to and don’t use 3m patch cords where a 1.5m patch cord would do the job, even if you have to walk back to the office to get a fitting patch cord. Otherwise you’ll spend your weekends cleaning up that mess, you and your colleagues made.