Nice post on David Weiss’ Blog few days ago.
I believe that a good DBA should have well developed “peripheral vision”. It helps everywhere — troubleshooting production issues or performance problems, database/application design, system architecture, reading documentation, etc. I also notice that a newbie DBA with good peripheral vision catches up much faster than a strictly focused person.
On the other hand, in many situations a DBA should be able to narrow her/his focus on specific issues according to current priorities. For example, while investigating a certain performance problem, it might be challenging to keep track of the target. I have seen many situations that began with a single user complaint, and were “resolved” by, say, creating an index on the table that has nothing to do with the original complaint, only because the DBA got sidetracked from his or her target.
Or maybe it’s just something to do with keeping your priorities straight?