Stoyan Stefanov

Personal blog

 

Wrong wording

cattle
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Warning: rant ahead)

Looking at the "call for papers" page of an IT Management conference, I see things like these in the "IT Business Management" track:

# Secrets of successfully managing an IT business
# Keeping techies focused on the business goals

These are important topics but the mere wording of it tells that whoever wrote it is clueless and looking at it from a very, very wrong angle.

Anything that has "Secrets of..." in the title is just plain wrong. Secrets of losing weight, the secrets of achieving happiness... all wrong. There ain't no secrets, there are no tips and tricks, no shortcuts. If you're looking for the silver bullet that will solve all your problems and will make you filthy rich, sexier and a top IT manager ... well, you can spend the rest of your life buying into the next fad with no result. That's why fad diets and agile methodologies are profitable, because too many people are just hopeless lazy optimists that really, really want the next silver bullet to work for them. They don't want to put in the effort, they just want the secret shortcut that will magically solve everything.

As for keeping the techies focused on the business... anyone referring to the programmers, developers, sys admins, db folks as "techies" is screwed a priori. "Techies'" job is not in any way similar to manufacturing, picking cotton or something. "Techies" are not cattle that you need to enforce going in the same "business" direction. This is a common misconception. For a proof - look around for successful projects. Most of them started by "techies", not by business folks. These projects usually lose their edge when they become too much focused on business goals, when the company goes IPO and so on.

So here you are - my top 2 secrets...

"Secrets of Managing Techies and IT Projects"

  1. stop saying (and thinking) "techies"
  2. stop looking for secrets

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2 Responses to “Wrong wording”

  1. On dexbol said:

    New Theme

  2. On Michael Kimsal said:

    “Keeping techies focused on business goals”

    *TELL THEM WHAT THE BUSINESS GOALS ARE*

    Too many times I’ve been asked to do ridiculous crap on web projects, and when I would question any decision, or ask for prioritization, I’d get pretty much every reaction except one you might consider normal/rational.

    There may be times occasionally when not broadcasting your business goals to the entire company is the best move, but when someone is asked to work on something, let them understand the full picture. Often times I felt like I had a better grasp of the company’s business and how the web technology and related processes served the business objectives than those above me who were telling me what to do.

    Also, if a techie comes back with a suggestion, or with something like “hey, that’ll take a long time to do” – LISTEN. Don’t blindly assume you know better. Perhaps even take a recommendation from someone ‘below’ you in the corporate hierarchy and actually implement it. You *might* actually be surprised at the results(!)

    IT, in a broad sense, often sits in the middle of multiple business concerns – marketing, production, sales, support, etc – and as such, IT workers often have a stronger grasp of how requested changes and projects will impact multiple areas than do their direct managers. Don’t feel *threatened* by that – embrace that fact and exploit it as much as possible. Everyone will be much better off.

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