When I was much younger then I am now had a casual interest in photography. I read a few books, experimented with a black and white darkroom, and managed to save up enough to purchase my own Nikon SLR camera.
My kit consisted of a couple of lenses, a polarized filter and a mini-tripod. I read photography magazines looking over assorted lenses, light meters and other accessories that I know would let me take those professional looking photos I aspired to.
I slowly came to realize that buying the equipment I desired would improve the quality of my photos, actually learning skills like composition would make a much bigger difference.
One or two of my friends from that time are now professional photographers, and I they can take a better picture with an iPhone then I can with all the expensive photography equipment in the world.
I see the same story repeated over and over again in IT. Despite the constant pleasure to do more with less, it is almost always easier to sign the check then to improve internal capability.
I’m sure many of you will challenge this. After all, we are constantly striving to lift our game. That hardware refresh is postponed for another year, we have SLAs and KPIs to maintain, it seems that every day IT is pushed to deliver more and more. I would agree with you on this.
But what deliberate actions are you doing?
- Product specific technical training imparts knowledge, teaching people “how” to do a task, but how often does it also teach the “when” and the “why”?
- Do your senior staff deliberately mentor and help grow the less experienced? Or are they too busy and the “juniors” are left to learn by example and osmosis?
- How does your IT staff know where the money that keeps you afloat comes from? Do they have the knowledge to work to support the most important parts of the business, or is it simply the squeaky wheel gets the grease?
- How do your staff know how to plan a change so it has the least risk and disruption to the business? Some will argue this is why you create and follow a process, but who do you have to write that process?
There are a number of technology trends in today’s IT that relate to this. The shift to cloud can be seen as a way of making it “somebody else’s problem”. Automation in its many guises such as DevOps and cloud Orchestration attempt to reduce the number of hands required to accomplish a task. None of these actually remove the need for skilled, capable people to design and implement solutions that meet the business need.
What are you doing in your organization to ensure that the people you have are capable of delivering the results you expect?