In Douglas Adams’ novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, the character Dirk Gently frequently talks about the “interconnectedness of all things.” He was talking about solving mysteries, but might as well have been talking about software. Interfaces are a significant part of the power, and complexity, of today’s IT department.
I would suggest that the interfaces are becoming as important as the functionality within a piece of software.Read More
This post if for IT people but applies to any field with their own jargon. Scroll down to see the video I’m talking about.
Gustav Holst write a brilliant piece of music call The Planets. In particular, the Jupiter portion has always been one of my favorite classical music pieces. I don’t know the creator of the video, but he seems knowledgeable about music. He dissects Jupiter in a very deep way, using tons of music jargon.
I don’t understand most of what he is saying… I believe he knows what he is talking about, but I don’t know that he knows what he is talking about.
If you are an IT person, I challenge you to start at 1:30 and sit through at least five minutes of this video (for the adventurous, start at 7:30). Make a sincere effort to understand what he is trying to say. Try, as if your business depends on understanding it. Unless you have musical training, you probably won’t get much further than I did.
This is what we sound like to people outside our field. The organizations that depend on us aren’t able to understand the technology to the level we do. This isn’t because they are dumb (I hate the “dumb user” trope), it is because they are experts on other things and haven’t put in the years of focus that you have.
It is our job, not theirs, to figure out how to communicate better. We need to be creative in using analogies, metaphors, and straightforward language to communicate.
If we don’t, they may wonder if we know what we are talking about or just faking it by using jargon they don’t understand.
We rented a pontoon on Lake Itasca the other day (fyi a great state park in Minnesota). The lake was beautiful. Smooth as glass. The morning chill gave way to the warmth of the sun with the light breeze keeping it from getting too hot. A peaceful ride, with the steady hum of the motor, that gave me time to think.
As we cruised across the lake, I looked back behind me and saw our wake. Clearly, we weren’t going that fast, but the wake went side to side on the still lake.
As we go through life, we leave a wake. Wakes come in all shapes and sizes. I won’t bore you with the obvious metaphors of fast and slow boats, wakeboarding, watching out for canoes, waterskiiing, etc.
But I wonder if we would do things a little differently if we better understood our wake. We all have one. We can’t go through life without leaving one. We probably leave different wakes at different times.
So instead of asking “what’s in your wallet?” like the commercial, maybe we should ask what kind of wake are we leaving.
If you are an IT leader long enough, you will deal with a team member’s retirement. While similar to any person leaving a position, you may get more than two weeks notice, which can be helpful.
If you have a little more time, here are some things to consider.Read More
The organizations that our IT departments serve have lots of parts, pieces, and most importantly, people. Walkabouts are a good way to stay in touch.
Walkabouts give you informal chances to have conversations with others in your organization. You can learn a lot from these hallway chats.
Here are some other things to consider.
In a previous article, I described the work IT leaders need to manage: incidents, service requests, change requests, and projects. Since there is always a backlog of work to accomplish, prioritization is critical.
How can we prioritize effectively in the IT department?
IT does a lot of different kinds of work. Managing it all can be a challenge. Whether your organization is large or small, having a good handle on the types of work IT does is important.
All IT work falls into four large buckets. Let’s look at what these are and how an IT leader should think about them.
All organizations use business processes to get work done. Most business processes in larger organizations rely on computers and software. IT’s role is to make sure the business process, as implemented in technology, changes as the organization changes.
This requires that IT understands the business processes well enough to do our job correctly.
Imagine two scenarios.
First, we are at a restaurant. Scanning the menu, we see lots of great options. It’s hard to decide. But finally, we do. We put our order in and sit back, mouth watering in anticipation. Finally, it arrives. And it’s wrong. We wanted french fries and got Brussels sprouts. Or vice versa. Either way, it disappoints us. When we point it out, the restaurant is very apologetic, brings out new food and takes something off the bill.
Organizations have IT departments, but they don’t always understand how the IT department can best help. Yes, we keep the computers running. But there can be more than that. Much more.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as just telling the rest of the organization how to think about IT. The responsibility is not with the rest of the company to believe IT understands the business. The responsibility is on us to show that we understand it. Frequently.