The Manager Dilemma

Originally posted on August 23 2011

I'm back from a long week in the middle of Austrian Alps.  

In all my years as an IT person before and as a business, but technology oriented, consultant after, I always asked myself a question.

 Why a manager is required to know some business fundamentals and share a common business language but is not required to know anything about how IT systems work? Managers are required to know things like budget, finance, corporate goverance but no IT? Why? IT is increasingly pivotal in any business area, so, what are they waiting for?

Personally, I were satisfied if a manager only knew enough on how to manage the business side of an IT project. But, often, they don’t.

 This sort of knowledge is overlooked in most business schools. When is not overlooked, it is covered very superficially at best.

Why a manager can understand that production lines may fail, sometimes, and some outages cannot be avoided and it’s no man’s fault, but they can’t believe that computers do fail as well and it’s not the ITs who are playing Assassin’s Creed in place of working?
Why managers understand that a new product must be carefully thought out but they do not understand that building a new IT system is pretty much the same?
Why managers realize that, under the hood of production, research and logistics, there are a lot of complex processes that they don’t know thoroughly, but think that the IT must only keep e-mail and blackberries working?
Why managers realize that company standards and internal regulations are a necessity while they do not understand that a full erp client can’t run on an iPhone?

 I could go on for hours, but I think I made my point.

The new generation of digital natives is just going to worsen the issue. They are used to work in a pervasive environment where information is at hand. Probably the discovery that the solution is not a few clicks away will strike them much more than the previous generation.

Actually I see no solution, this is just another reason why aligning IT and business is never an easy process. At the end of the day, there’s no choice: the IT must take the burden to make IT understood and accepted. It is sad, but often true.

What do you think of this?

 

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generaldiscussion

2 responses

  • Nov 1 2011, 11:06 AM

    Meta Brown responded:

    We might be better off with management honesty about not understanding IT. Granted, it's not good for them to think it's all easy, because that's certainly not true. But as they pick up a little more knowledge, they might start trying to tell IT how to do things, and I'm not so sure the IT staff would like that, or do their best work under those circumstances.

  • Nov 1 2011, 1:47 PM

    Augusto Albeghi responded:

    @Meta Bad managers micromanage, good managers empower their people. I just advocate that IT is a process among the others, not a sort of black hole, thus sharing the good and the evil.
    I'd prefer not to have to justify my mere existence from the beginning every time I'm getting a new customer.