Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thoughts on IT culture

A few thoughts on the inefficiency of IT and how to solve it:

1.  Pointing out other people's mistakes is not the same thing as leadership.

2.  I have never seen someone criticized by their boss for not taking initiative: I consistently see people criticized for imperfect results when they voluntarily overburden themselves.  Do you want a silo'd, turf-war, every-man-for-himself culture where people do their best to limit their workload in order to achieve actual perfection?  Or one where people are applauded for efforts to carry a greater share of the workload in order to allow their teammates to accomplish more as well?  Leadership should consider what they are incentivizing.

3.  Don't waste talent.  There's plenty of dirty work in IT and everyone understands that, but as much as you possibly can try to not waste your engineers' time with the small stuff.  I've seen guys making six figures who change backup tapes every day (!!!) and guys making $80k who have to spend 2 hours a week creating users in AD.  If you're paying him to design bridges then he shouldn't be filling potholes, or else you're wasting capital and drastically slowing your company's technological advancement.

4.  Hire interns.  The energy, work ethic, and new perspective forces all us full timers to stay on the edge of our game.  Further: 1)  Give your interns real responsibility.  2)  Let your interns shake up the status quo, even if your full timers don't like it.

5.  You pay your talent a lot, so get them the tools to be as effective as possible.  I really can't make this point any better than Jeff Atwood and Yishan Wong, I highly recommend these two reads.

Coding Horror's Programmer's Bill of Rights:

Engineering Management by Yishan Wong:

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