Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hard Times require Hard Choices

In a widely distributed post last week, Cringely suggests firing IT managers as a means of coping with economic hard times. On the surface, it sounds like another gripe about bad IT managers who don't know their sql from their html, and in fact, he does say that if a manager can't handle a few simple programming tasks, they should get the boot. I do agree that a manager should be able to describe the work their staff does, though I do not think they should necessarily be able to do any of it. In fact, they should be sorely out of practice because of all the time they spend managing the staff doing the actual work.

The great point though, that I think might get lost by some, is the bigger issue. Crises aren't handled by making small changes. (Firing a manager to save money is a small change.) Crises require BIG change. Systemic change. Doing things differently. And in many cases, the people in charge who are used to doing things one way, could get in the way of making the kinds of changes required to really weather a storm, or, more likely, evolve to survive in a new ecosystem. In that scenario, a few firings may be exactly the kind of cataclysmic upheaval required. But it doesn't have to be. The answer is to stop looking at the symptoms and start looking at the real problems. And then, get on the right path to a solution, which will very likely look a lot different than the way things are currently done and probably require some leaps of faith.

Embrace change or die, that is the message.

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