Three Types of IT People

Greetings and Salutations,

Today, I’m going to present an excerpt from one of the many articles I began to write, at some point, and either lost the direction or lost track of time, as other issues (i.e. such as job-hunting) took priority. This is a contentious topic, as everyone will want to put their $0.02 worth in … but I guess it’s my blog and I can express my opinion!

In Short, It’s about the three types of IT people out there and how they affect the relationship with the business they serve …

______________________________________

The IT industry has undertaken a number of roles throughout its juvenile life cycle. As with any new field, it has had its share of growing pains, mistakes, failures and successes. While it is unfortunate that the business community quickly dismiss successes as expected outcomes and holds an elephant’s memory for the failures and mistakes, it also holds true that, if the industry was to be objective with itself, it has not furthered the cause for itself in the business world.

In my view, the IT industry is generalised into three major generational qualifiers. Each of these “generations” has caused great benefits to the field of Information Technology and yet caused a great disservice to the field of sibling unity in the business world.

The White Coats
In the early days of ICT, the devices were large, complex and above-all extremely expensive pieces of machinery that were kept in a sterilised environment – far away from the users – and maintained by specially educated scientists.

The ever-visible white lab coat denoted and enforced the special place that was held by the device operators – a badge of distinction they wore with honour. These ‘high priests’ were the keepers of the sacred knowledge that was the new field of computing.

The ‘white-coaters’ ran the equipment like a holy relic. They nurtured and protected it, applied strong concepts of proper procedural methodology and demanded respect from the clergy that was the business users. These ‘high-priests’ took ‘requests’ from the clergy and deemed their worthiness. They told the business what they could and could not do. The focus was not the business – the focus was the device. All mere mortals were looked upon with disdain for they were not worthy, not capable and, in most likelihood, not clever enough to grasp the wonder of the technology.

A decade later with the advent of Personal Computers, this mindset was still quite common in the industry. The white lab coats were replaced with a complicated, technical, three-letter acronym rich language. Non-IT professionals were kept at bay by the simple ethos – if you cannot understand us, you are not worthy of our time. Even today, many IT workers continue to utilise the linguistic barrier and maintain the ‘high-priest’ mindset that can be heard reverberating throughout many an IT department:

  • “the business can’t make technology decisions – they don’t understand it”
  • “users shouldn’t be allowed to utilise a computer until they are certified”
  • “computers should be locked down, we’ll tell the business what they can do and they should be grateful we let them touch the technology at all”
This thinking naturally places and actively promotes a direct conflict between the IT department and the business. It promotes a negative feedback loop between the IT department and the rest of the business. The users are disillusioned with white-coaters; they are consistently made to feel incompetent and consistently unhelpful in the goal of improving the user’s job and thus making the business’ requirements unachievable.

Thus, this type of department is considered hostile, a hindrance to business requirements, unreliable and even untrustworthy.

The Gadgeteers
The gadgeteers are the second generation of IT professionals, born from the PC revolution. These individuals have been attracted to the IT industry because of the gadgets. They revel in the latest and greatest. Simply put, they are Technology Junkies.

This group is commonly considered the stereotypical IT professional. The primary goal of the gadgeteer is to get their hands on the latest – Software, hardware, portable, peripheral, server– anything, as long as it is the latest, the greatest and the best. These individuals can cite the latest specifications of any new IT component and argue the benefits of the most minuscule differentiators between products.

They simply love technology and its potential.

Users love the gadgeteer – they provide a wealth of information for their next home purchase, offer a wide range of “cool hardware” and are quite happy to deal with a user who shows any sign of interest in the technology.

The business relation with this department is not so rosy. Managers are always befuddled when they see an outrageous price tag for the latest technological fad. Managers tend to shrug and throw money at these departments … at first. They will begin to question why there is a requirement for 42” Plasma Screens on the desktop of every IT worker. They wonder why every year the IT budget gets bigger, but the solutions provided do not match the output.
In the end, the business views this department as untrustworthy, unreliable and most-of-all a money-sucking black hole.

The “Yes” Department
The third generation of IT professionals grew out of the corporate requirement to reign in the rogue IT department. More in line with accountants that the previous two generations, these professionals do not impose rules on the business, only purchase what is required and only implement what the business asks for. The business managers out there are most likely already salivating at this. It sounds like the ideal department – in check, in line and in control.

However, this group of IT professionals lack the pure passion of the previous two generations. They always agree with the business, never contradict it and always say yes. As appealing as this appears to the business managers among the readers, there are downsides.

The decisions for technological advancement in this group is usually made by other departments – unrealistic time-lines and budgets are put forward and the IT department simply agrees to these restrictions, accept the project and run off to complete it. Not providing the business with the correct feedback or advice can result in the implementation of the wrong technologies, the wrong solutions or simply the least cost effective result.

Many a business has set its management friendly ‘yes men’ off on a project that they anticipated to be complete in three months for $150,000 only to discover that it took a year longer and ended up costing $700,000.

Even without this extreme, this group has a hard time justifying saying “no” to the business – even when they really should. Processes are undermined, procedures overwritten and standards subverted all in the name of pleasing the business.

Unsurprisingly, this forms a negative feedback loop and the business will once again view the department as unreliable, untrustworthy and a hindrance to timely requirements – regardless of the constant aim to please.

______________________________________
Well, that’s all for now … I will right more on this later … I hope you enjoyed my “little” entry, and look forward to hearing your feedback.

TTFN!

Advertisements

of 40 Km/h School Zones and Internet censorship

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
This entry will disturb most parents – please do not read further if you have or are planning to have children.
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!


There is a growing trend that disturbs me – parents are relying on society to raise their children.
It’s not just the odd example either, it’s everywhere you go. Everything you do is somehow affected by this ever increasing trend.

Now, I know that in the long forgotten past of our species we lived in cave communities and that we, as primitive cave dwelling folk, tended to look after all the offspring as a collective. However, I’d like to point out that, with the obvious exceptions, we have moved on from there.

If you decide to have a child, then bloody well look after the fscking thing!

If you decided to give you’re little brat a computer and internet access, without supervising them, utilising net nanny or some other form of content filter then tough titties if they stumble across a porn site and ask you embarrassing or difficult questions.

Would you give your kid $100.00 and let them walk around the CBD? Heck for a cool C-note they can access a lot more from the local 7-11 or newsagent than they can from anything online. Heck, should we go and close down every legitimate business out there that differs from your set of personal values and beliefs?

So it is with School Zones, why should I have my trip to work extended by up to 40 minutes because the kids may not watch what they’re doing and run across the road? Why should I look out for your offspring in case they leap over the roadside barriers? Why shouldn’t natural evolution, pure Darwinian theory play out in this situation?

IF YOUR CHILD IS TOO STUPID TO NOT TAKE NOTICE OF THE ROAD RULES, JUMPED OVER ROAD SIDE BARRIERS AND GETS HIT BY A CAR THEN IT IS FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE SPECIES.

Another thing … when you take your brats with you to restaurants, or reception centers, or any other public forum, it is your responsibility to maintain them – not the relatives that you’ve invited out with you, not the waiting staff, not the people at the next table … YOU!

While we’re on this topic, not everyone at said location thinks that your child causing a racket in the corner ’cause they don’t have their favorite toy or didn’t get the chocolate dessert or whatever is “just part of kids growing up”, nor is it amusing to us when we’re on the dance-floor and you’re misbegotten spawn runs underfoot and it definitely is not funny when they grab a tablecloth and rip down a table setting! These all affect OUR enjoyment of the evening.

So no more excuses. If you can’t or wont look after your spawn, then the answer is simple.

  1. Don’t have them. Either utilise contraceptives like the PILL and CONDOMS or simply go get the SNIP. I really don’t care which way you go. Just make sure it works.
  2. Give your kids away. They can be adopted out, sold on the black market, sent out to the mines … the choices are endless.
  3. Join a cult. They always have interesting uses for kids, and also mind altering techniques

… well the list is endless really … but now it’s time for my Xanax.

TTFN

Introduction

Greetings and Salutations,

Welcome to my little corner of the world where I get to self indulgently blurb out thoughts, rants and views on anything even remotely related to the field of Information Systems and Technology.

Well, what can you expect from this blog? Not much, just opinions and views … sometimes they’ll be long winded diatribes on the nature of one topic or another, other times they’ll be a two line opinion or view …

Really, this is just a space to allow me to express my views, maybe solidify ideas, utilise the space to place some of my sermons to my mentees and keep some form of historical archive that I can go back to and say “Wow! I really thought that would take off?!?”

TTFN!

Sunday Mornin’ Blues

Well, it’s another grand Melbourne Winter Sunday Morning. The sun shines down through the breaks in the storm clouds as they glide across the sky marching onwards towards the Gippsland valleys and across the straight.

In twenty-four hours time I’ll be sitting in my cubicle, wishing I wasn’t. I’m between roles at the moment … for the last three-odd years I’ve been accomplishing a role that sits between the positions of an IT Architect, Senior Technical Analyst, Project Manager, Mentor and Gimp. Due to the frustrations I’ve expressed in an earlier post, the Software Development manager offered to transfer me into one of his teams as a Systems Architect. Well, in theory at least – the title will still be Senior A/P, the pay doesn’t change and the architecture is important and will need to be done, but only after the team is rebuilt and the support issues go away … maybe in a year or so … we can’t rush these things, you know!

So, I’ve been looking for work outside of my current locale. Well, technically I’ve been looking for about 6 months with any real effort. In the last two, I’ve expanded the border to take in opportunities from across the country.

This strategy has proven simultaneously fruitful and tiring. I have received requests and opportunities from everywhere! With a selection including three active roles in Canberra, five in Sydney, one in Perth, one in Wollongong, a few in Melbourne, two in Brisbane …

That’s great, don’t get me wrong, but have you any idea how tiring it gets to go to work, do your ‘normal’ thing, try and not let on you’re seeking and complete a minimum of eight interviews a week? For the record, it’s stressful, exhausting and drives the anxiety levels right up.

It’s no wonder, in hindsight, that Friday turned out the way it did.

I was called on Wednesday evening and asked if I would mind going up to Wollongong/Port Kembla for a final interview for one of the roles I had applied to. I naturally responded in the affirmative and the plans were being laid.

Thursday I receive the confirmations that I will be on a 0700 flight to Sydney (there weren’t any direct to Wollongong) where I would land, get a hire car, drive down to Port Kembla and meet with the respective team and leaders of the IS department.

Which I did, except there was a half hour delay getting into Sydney Airport, where we circled for at least 20 minutes, then once we landed, I got the hire car, drove down as fast as I could without breaking any laws (I hope!), and getting lost in the vastness of Port Kembla. So, I finally managed to find the place, I met the people, did my thing and after that, I had to drive back up to Sydney (via the Scenic route to look at the local area, check out a lovely cafe and beaches at Bulli and investigate local real estate) drop off the rental at the airport, rush into the City via train to get a lovely hat from Antons, rush back to the Airport, check in, get all but strip searched by the overzealous security guys after the bombings in London, get onto the plane … and I should be relaxing now, shouldn’t I?

It’s about this time that the entire week came crashing down on me. The rigid pace I’ve been setting for myself, the stress, the pressure of the day, the lack of sleep of the previous night, the fact that I practically hadn’t eaten or drunk all day and the gastro that has been sitting on the verge of exploding all week … all decided to bite me in the ass just as we took off …

It started off with a feeling of intense anxiety and nausea, followed by a wave of cold sweat and dizziness … my ears felt like they were about to explode outwards from the changing pressure in the cabin and then we finally levelled out … at this stage I thought, maybe if I go to the toilet, I can relieve some of that turbulence occurring within me, wash my face and get myself in order … so I got up … and promptly fainted in the aisle!

Next thing I know I’m stretched out across three seats, sucking on an oxygen tank being checked out by another passenger who’s a GP.

So to all those on Flight QF451 that night – I apologise for disturbing what should have been a pleasantly dull flight down to Melbourne. Hopefully it gave you all an interesting story to tell your friends and family once you landed.

Well, that’s all for me for now … my partner is bitching about the length of time I’m taking for my brain-dump … so I’m off to let her do her MBA homework … even though I know she’s more interested in checking out her SIMS2 websites.

TTFN

Saturday Night

So, here I am, waiting for my partner to get home from the MBA course. I’ve poured myself a balloon of Armagnac and sipping it while doing some blog surfing.

Admittedly, I don’t usually get the chance as the computer is usually taken up by the other half for those MBA assignments or playing the SIMS 2. So when I do get the chance to use it myself, I try and catch up on my e-mail, deal with my mentees and then (maybe!) I’ll get a chance to do something else.

So anyways, here I am sipping on my Chabot XO Armagnac and sorta wondering why I quit smoking? I mean I enjoyed it – health and money issues aside – I enjoyed the flavor, the feel, the entire experience … A good Cuban or Dominican would go well with this Armagnac actually, maybe a Romeo y Julieta No. 2 de Luxe or a Montecristo No. 3 … ah well, no use harping on about the past …

… it is sad that here I am, torn between reading Übermilf’s piece on her clever cat, Lo Lo Lova telling it like it is, or finding out why All that porn isn’t going to watch itself … or whether to maybe just plonk myself in front of the idiot box …

I’m only 31! I should be out dancing at a rave, hitting the clubs, going out to a cool café or having dinner with friends … is this what a long term relationship does to you?

Bah! Now I’ve lost my track … my sister called and she started babbling on about … actually, god knows what about … so now my head’s been done in and I’m signing off …

TTFN

The frustration of my current role

It’s a Saturday afternoon, and I’m exhausted to the bone! I was initially going to highlight the long and harrowing experiences of searching for work … but instead a tirade of verbal diarrhea has spewed relating to my current employment, so, I’ve changed the title, and reformatted my expulsions and present them here without further ado:

I currently work in a well known entertainment establishment in Melbourne. I work for their IT department. I’ve been there for four years. In the last two, my frustrations have grown to the level that are causing me to be ill.

The Main Frustration – The last few years: On Frameworks, Strategies and Processes
The greater part of my frustration comes from the small shop mentality that our department suffers from.

On the one hand, as a company, we are proud that we are a billion-dollar-revenue company, with a worldwide reputation, impacting the lives of nearly 9000 employees.

On the other, we have an IT department that likes to use (often contradicting) phrases like:

    • the fact that our competitors have twice the IT staff with half the systems shows we are more advanced and streamlined
    • the fact that our competitors can achieve five-nine service levels and we can’t shows that our staff are not as committed to services and require more management
    • we are too small to worry about enterprise architecture
    • we don’t need a permanent [systems/solutions/technology/IT] architect the engineers can do it as part of their role
    • we can easily determine future directions organically based on the desires of the business and a committee of senior management, without the need for specialist IT staff to achieve this function.

    Armed with that sort of mindset (and their PowerPoint based technology plan), it is virtually impossible to go forward with the argument for any form of framework (even something as rudimentary and simple as Zachman is too difficult and constraining for this place!) let alone considering true frameworks for the enterprise (such as TOGAF 8), process quality or management tools (like Six-Sigma) or any other form of best practice methodology (such as ITIL).

    I’m continuously told to relax and stop worrying about things that are outside of my job role. It’s the professional equivalent of the sexist and equally demeaning don’t worry you’re pretty little head about it!

    So as a professional, one who is passionate about getting their job done, one who is about righting wrongs and trouble-shooting the department more than the iron and one who is constantly trying to improve their long-term work-life balance (even if it means destroying it in the short term) the whole situation is a screaming disaster.

    I said it before … I have to leave … and that’s what I’ll do … especially after …

    The Recent Frustration – The last 6 months: The story of Chucky’s Bride
    At the end of last year, things changed. For the worse.

    A new “leader” was assigned to our team.

    She came up into a senior IT management role after spending the last two years on the entertainment floor … oh, but she has IT experience our illustrious leader assures us! After all she spent 16 years at a national bank in their mainframe division prior to working the floor …

    Now, what on God’s good earth makes him think that she is capable to do the role? Because she can spin a big wheel in a mini? Well, whatever his reasons, he makes the team have lunch with her to see if there is compatibility. There wasn’t. The team asked her questions, told her the state of play, judged her reactions and came to the same conclusions. GET SOMEONE ELSE!

    We all expressed our concerns to our illustrious leader. I specifically mentioned that when I asked the question:

    It’s been two plus years since you were in the IT field, and even then it was in Mainframes, how do you think you will be able to handle and react in a team with technologies ranging from Midrange to desktops, Windows & Netware to Unix & SANS?

    she chirpily responds with

    Oh, it’s no big deal! Nothing has changed in two years, and it all comes from Mainframes anyway …

    Our illustrious leader simply smiles and ignores our remarks.

    We later hear he told the CIO that we were all very happy and felt positive about offering her the position.

    Thus she was hired.

    Thus our nightmare began.

    Since then it’s been month after excruciating month of being nano-managed; having meetings that run between twenty to fifty percent over their allocated time; having those meetings three to five times a day because a stray thought entered her head; having more meetings to re-explain to her the techniques, methods or technologies you are utilising that you explained in the last four meetings but she either didn’t understand, interrupted you with other questions while you were explaining it or pretended she understood as she sat there nodding like a novelty toy sitting on the rear parcel shelf of a car!

    When will it stop?

    When will it all end?

    When will they realise that she is driving the team insane?

    Never.

    I guess I always knew it … really, I did. The illustrious leader has a boner for this wondrous glorified two-dollar-good-time-girl … completely ignoring the range of commentary proffered by his peers and his staff over the last 6 months.

    Well, enough about that … the big wheel of justice will spin around … eventually.

    Oh, by the way, why “Chucky’s Bride“?? Well, I did some research – and in speaking to members of her old area at that national bank, I soon discovered she was nick-named as such because she was approximatly the same height, her voice screeched with the same intensity, she kept trying to slash everything she didn’t understand (and assumedly threatened by) and ran in the same stiff-legged style. They claim the department was re-structured primarily just so she could be made redundant – fancy that, eh?

    There’s no fixing this … it’s time to leave … and so I shall …

    TTFN

    An introduction

    Well, they did it!

    They allowed me to have my own ranting space. Oh the fools! The poor miserable, misguided fools! Do they not realise that this is a dangerous proposition? The mere inconvenience of the thousands of complaint e-mails alone may not be a worry to those behind the great wall of technology … but the lawyers won’t like it!

    So what is this blog about? NOTHING! I just really needed a place to rant, rave and brain-dump on a regular basis.

    So why is it published? Because we have the technology! Because it can be! Because I need to express myself … think of it as mental exhibitionism.

    So why should you read it? There is no real reason why you should. In fact, don’t! Stop it! right now!

    Why are you still reading? Oh, I know, it’s either because you’re bored, mentally disturbed, or for some strange reason you find my rantings somewhat mildly amusing in some small way… Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    TTFN

    eccentric by name and by nature

    %d bloggers like this: