Human Nature And Nature Of IT

on October 17, 2013
Reading Time: 4 minutes

“It is human nature that rules the world, not governments and regimes.”~Svetlana Alliluyeva

It is in our nature to think that what works best for us is what works best for the company we work for. We work very hard at making our jobs more efficient, easier to do, rationalizing that we’re making the company more efficient too.

But our REAL job is to help our customers, not ourselves. We are tasked with absorbing the complexity of life so that our customers can enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

CAVEAT: I’m about to lambaste IT departments. Again, I’m not picking on them alone. We all do this. It’s human nature. It’s just a question of 1) recognizing what we’re doing; and 2) taking measures to make things better.

During the nineties and aughts, IT departments – quite naturally and quite understandably – forgot who their real customers were; forgot the real jobs that they were hired to do. IT’s internal customers were the company’s employees and IT’s job was to make the lives of those employees easier. Instead, IT came to believe – as so many of us do – that making their own lives easier was their job. Employees were not viewed as internal customers to be helped and assisted, rather, the company’s employees were more often viewed as adversaries to be feared and resisted.

What Employees Want

Employees want technology that is best suited to do the job that needs to be done. They want the ease of use that leads to a superior user experience. Yes, they want technology to enhance their lives, but mostly, they want technology to get out of their way so that they can get their jobs done.

What IT Wants

Corporate IT departments do not focus on the things that are important to their internal clients. They focus on things like costs, measurements and controls.

Costs

Corporate IT departments need to justify their purchases. They’re very focused on costs, often to the exclusion of benefits. They look at speeds and feeds and other features; they weigh the various benefits; they make a decision and, in most instances, that decision is primarily a financial one.

There is hardly anything in the world that some man can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.~John Ruskin

Measurements

Corporate IT departments need to document and measure their purchases. IT cares little about things that cannot be measured.

For instance, how does one properly measure quality, look-and-feel, attention to detail, and design? Answer: one doesn’t.

Further, IT is not the end user. How much, then, do they care about the user experience, how a product feels, whether it eliminates small annoyances, how easy it is to modify or whether it’s delightful to use? Answer: Not much.

Unmeasurable and unnoticed benefits are simply disregarded. The decision comes down to cost and features and the unquantifiable bits simply don’t enter into the decision making process.

To IT, “good enough” is not just good enough. It’s ideal.

Control

If there’s one thing that IT knows about computers, it’s that the corporate employee knows nothing about computers.

“You can’t make anything idiot-proof because idiots are so ingenious.”~Ron Burns

IT is a firm believer in Murphy’s Law.

If anything can go wrong, it will.
~Murphy’s Law


And IT well knows that things can go from bad to worse in a hurry.

“To err is human but to really foul things up you need a computer.”~Paul Ehrlich

The last thing IT wants to give you is something new, powerful and powerfully dangerous.

Generals like to fight the last generation’s wars. IT likes to fight with the last generation of computers and computer software.

IT wants control. And it fears loss of control – to the employees – most of all.

Corporate IT Systems and cathedrals are much the same – first we build them, then we pray.”~Unknown

The War Or Priorities

It’s a war of priorities and, since it’s a Civil War, everyone loses.

The difference between IT and an employee is that an employee will pay two dollars for a one-dollar item that they want and IT will pay one dollar for a two-dollar item than they don’t want.

IT has no respect for the intelligence of its internal customers.

“Don’t explain computers to laymen. Simpler to explain sex to a virgin.”~Robert A. Heinlein

Employees become unhappy.

“I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”~P. G. Wodehouse

IT treats employees with disdain.

“It’s not our fault. It’s an ID ten T problem (ID10T).”

Employees become more and more frustrated with the technology they are using.

For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three.~Alice Kahn

IT stops listening – if they ever listened in the first place.

I have heard your views. They do not harmonize with mine. The decision is taken unanimously. ~ Charles de Gaulle

Employees begin to deeply resent and then mock IT’s decisions.

“Yo operating system so ugly it makes blind men cry.”

IT becomes ever more inscrutable and byzantine.

I called IT and asked for help. They referred me to the self-help section. When I asked them where the self-help section was, they said that if they told me, it would defeat the purpose.

Employees begin to fight back by undermining and sabotaging the system.

“If you can’t join them, beat them.”

— Employees want IT to change and are disappointed when they stay the same.
— IT wants employees to stay the same and are disappointed when they change.

Your Real Job

“I always advise people never to give advice.” P. G. Wodehouse

Again, your real job is to make the lives of your customers better, not to make your job easier.

People cannot be managed. Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.
—H. Ross Perot

IT and the employees are part of a team, like two oars in a row boat. If you don’t work together, you just end up going around in circles.

“In all human affairs, the wisest course is to be passionate about the role of reason and reasonable about the role of passion.”~Dr. Mardy’s Aphorisms

Remember, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”~Charles Darwin

“Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.” – Gordon R. Dickson