I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day when he told me about a client meeting he participated in. During the meeting, one of our analysts was instructed to go speak to one of the line of business people to get their requirements. One of the client’s analysts commented that he shouldn’t talk to them because all they’re trying to do is get out of work. I was stunned by that comment. What is our role if it’s not to make life easier (i.e. increase productivity) for those that make organizations run?
I have been in this industry long enough to have seen many examples of IT professionals, young and old, who think that their entire existence is to be there to do fun and exciting things, forgetting the fact that our principal role is to improve the bottom line, whatever that bottom line might be. Whether this be through improving revenue or decreasing expenses, our goal is to support the mission of the organizations we serve.
If you’re old enough, you might remember the Burger King commercials that sold you on that fact that you could have your burger however you wanted it. “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders won’t upset us, all we ask is that you let us serve it your way. Have it your way….Have it your way at Burger King(I’ll stop singing now). I had an IT Manager as a client during that time period that had a large sign strategically positioned on the wall behind his desk that stated in bold letters, “This isn’t Burger King. You don’t get to have it your way.” Unfortunately, in his case, that’s the way he ran his department and the way he supported his end user community. Fortunately for me, his senior management figured this out and we didn’t work together long. He failed to understand that it wasn’t about him.
I had an employee several years ago that we hired out of college. He as a very good technician and I understand that he went on to have a great career in IT. When he came to work for us, I couldn’t keep him from constantly bringing our clients’ servers to their knees. He had spent the previous 4 years learning and playing in the college sandbox where trying new and exciting routines and techniques was rewarded, without regard to the needs of end users, dependent on the resources to perform their jobs. Try as I might, I was not able to get him to understand that our clients’ networks were not his to experiment with. His tenure with us was short lived. He failed to understand, it wasn’t about him.
Unfortunately, that attitude is still alive today. Our jobs require us to implement new technology, create new processes and yes, sometimes do fun and exciting things. But it isn’t about us, nor the things we do, nor the methods and tools we use. It’s about supporting the goals and objectives of the organizations we work for. It’s about providing a service to improve costs, increase sales, or improve services. When we fail to keep that as our primary focus we fail in our mission and maybe just become expendable.
Thanh Nguyen (阮天青) says
I think it’s okay to play around in the college sabdbox- you just need to when to bring that into client work, and when to keep it out.
There’s no need to experiment on client hardware- services like Digital Ocean, Amazon EC2, and Google App Engine make it cheap and easy to experiment on servers elsewhere.
Mike Miller says
Thanh, you’re right. There’s tools available now to help with that. Several years ago, when this took place, those tools weren’t available. There was still no reason to use the client’s resources as the sandbox. It was about the attitude that our employee had at the time and the understanding of the mission of the IT professional in the marketplace.