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Are IT shops getting dumber?

The appearance that IT shops are getting dumber is a direct result of very bad corporate management in recent years. The real problem is the cost/benefit of experienced and knowledgeable IT personnel versus inexperienced and inexpensive IT personnel, is that bad management deludes themselves into believing they are interchangeable. In bad managements quest to reduce costs, they replace knowledgable and experienced personnel with novice technicians who have no concept of what is required to actually run a business. They outsource services to overseas companies as if the years of business and data center operations experience can be transferred by mere decree. The arrogance and stupidity of these decisions is astonishing.

These decisions are driven by bad managements desire to achieve their own personal employment contract goals, for the purpose of obtaining their scheduled bonus. Over the last decade, the management practices of many of the world's largest organizations appear only to have been concerned with looking as far forward as the next bonus cycle. Responsible and experienced management would have required that all personnel in their organization be oriented around a long term plan and set of goals. However, long term plans and goals require thinking beyond the next bonus cycle. Long term plans and goals require expenditures that may not be immediately realized, and the bottom line may show less revenue at the time of the next bonus cycle. Therefore, long term plans and goals are not immediately conducive to achieving short term bonuses, and as a result, they are of no value to bad management.

This is symptomatic of what I refer to as a "Wharton School of Business" mentality which seems to promote the concept that management does not need specific knowledge of the industry in which their business exists, they only need to know general business management principles. This mentality contributes significantly to the execution of bad decisions, due to a lack of history or understanding of industry practices, needs, or requirements. In combination with a lack of long term planning and goals, the resulting management activities are catastrophic.

By the time the bad decisions are uncovered, the management personnel has typically already collected their bonuses, received their accolades, and moved on to destroy another company. Their replacements are usually of the same mentality and the cycle repeats. The implementation of long term plans and goals are never actualized due to a revolving door of narcissistic management personnel and a complete lack of motivation to build a long term business. The only motivation is to squeeze out as much money as possible by the next bonus period, then move on before the damage is discovered.

With respect to the original question, yes IT departments are getting dumber because the value of knowledge and experience is being diminished. The value of building something for the future has being replaced with an attitude of grab everything you can now regardless of who or what it destroys. The ends justify the means.

This attitude exhibited by bad management is directly mirrored by the employees, if management is there only for the purpose looting the coffers, then so will be the employees. There will be no motivation to build anything beyond absolute minimum, primarily because that is exactly what bad management has asked for. Unfortunately, the costs of managing an IT infrastructure built on this premise are orders of magnitude higher than they would be had management been oriented around the long term goal of building a business. Companies that have fallen victim to this "Wharton School of Business" mentality will eventually fail, as we have recently seen. The only solution to this problem is for the board of directors to change the orientation of the company. Management and employee compensation must be based on meeting long term goals and objectives. All interested parties must have a vested interest in building a future for the company, employees, and shareholders.

Mr French's primary focus is business continuity, disaster recovery, high availability (HACMP, PowerHA), virtualization (VIO,APV,PowerVM), data center migration, and data center automation (vLPAR) in large IBM AIX data center environments. He consults with many of the worlds largest organizations regarding data center automation, data center and server consolidation, business function consolidation and outsourcing, and a variety of other cost saving techniques.