Analogies and anathema’s…


Further to the quote from Merlin Mann:

“You shouldn’t let the guy holding the brush, decide how many elephants you have in your parade.”

I’ve thought more about what the analogy means. I don’t want to seem to be targeting IT Managers here (at least this time) – this analogy can be used for just about any profession, including my own:

“You shouldn’t let the guy doing the artwork, decide on the overall design of a piece of work.”

It’s very important in my job to separate out the different disciplines, because if you let an artworker also do the design, then the design won’t be for the good of the client, it will be for the good of the artworker. i.e. the design will be easier for an artworker to do.

A designer shouldn’t have their designs compromised, just to make the artworker’s life easier. This is a vital part of the design process.

I often say to my superior’s that my department must always act on the mandate of others. By this I mean that what I consider my ‘workload’, or the task for the day, cannot come solely from me. I am a very busy person and I will naturally choose whatever the easiest root is to do that workload.

This is perfectly natural, and it lies centrally to my profession. I think most, if not all other jobs are structured the same, except one – IT departments.

Companies trust their IT departments to do what is best for the company and because of a knowledge gap between the people who run their companies and the geeks they trust to run the IT, they are regularly duped.

Which brings us back to the original analogy of the IT Manager. They will choose a system based on:

  1. His or her knowledge – in order to preserve job security.
  2. The choice that makes his job as easy and efficient as possible, even if that compromises the ease and efficiency of the users (who make up the majority in this situation).
  3. In order to keep his team busy – systems are chosen in order to keep IT staff busy and employed, which in turn keep the IT Manager’s position and wage at the highest possible pinnacle.
  4. To keep Mac’s out – the anathema of the Windows IT Manager, and the constant itch they can’t quite reach to scratch.

I’ve worked for a long time in Mac-based studio’s, inside much larger PC-based companies and I have yet to see any company that has their IT under control.

Except one. One particular company, fed up with their IT, sacked the lot of them and then re-employed them to implement IT. ‘Implement’ is the operative word.

They employed an independent IT consultant, under a results & completion based contract to advise on what IT they needed.

The employed IT staff then implemented that advice.

It worked perfectly – at last the job (like mine and many others) had the disciplines separated out so that everyone worked for the good of the company – not the good of themselves.


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