Leadership

A month in review - July


Have you ever gotten to the end of a

month and not known what you accomplished? I'm not referring to all

the tasks which came and went; my pile of those looks as large as

anyone's. Instead I'm considering what, if anything, really changed

because of all my efforts? What principles did I realize in my

actions; which things will we remember ten years from now?

That last one hurts when I think about

it in terms of IT. Ten years ago CD jukeboxes were the wave of the

future. Ten years ago I put in servers which, if anyone even

remembers them, will now get the title of “junk”. Never mind

they served up more mail, faster, than the honking huge servers we

use now days; the past rots quickly in our profession.

I sometimes wonder if disconnection

from our past feeds the present chaos. We have very little to anchor

us; few standards of long standing, little in the way of a business

culture beyond the cult of intelligence, and almost no real

appreciation for the long cycles of life and business which sweep us

along. It makes us frantic to prove something, anything, right now

rather than holding back, holding on, and waiting for the right

moment to move.

The cult of intelligence provides us

all with a lot of ego boosts but does little to stabilize our

relationships or point us towards priorities generating lasting and

worthwhile effects. My own month is littered with cases in point;

I've solved dozens of little problems over the last month, some of

them quite intricate. They scored me a fair number of points in the

geek hierarchy but none of them matter in the long run. Someone else

could have solved them, probably just as fast or faster. More

importantly they didn't make the environment better, just restored

the status quo.

Looking at the status quo gives me my

best insight into what I did, or did not, accomplish this month. My

team continues to do well despite my whining. We have some long term

issues to work out, but after six months the foundation of a

functional team occasionally emerges from the chaos. We still don't

always click properly, but I actually caught them sharing work and

ideas the other day. It's a trend we will continue though

problem-solving teams, task sharing, and hopefully some architectural

training here “real soon now”.

We have also made some very modest

progress on the architecture. I introduced basic priority based

design about two months ago; we just went though our first design

phase using it. I don't think anyone understood the words coming out

of my mouth, or knew what the impact of the choices they made would

be, but at least we tried. It may catch on; it may not. We'll just

have to keep working on it.

Meanwhile, I “lost” two team

members last week to an ad hoc task-force dedicated to eliminating

one of my most pressing problems. They addressed the root cause of

roughly half the incidents filling my team's queue. We'll see if

their changes really overcame the problem. If they did, we will

implement them house-wide. Now that would mark a major change for us

all. Something else will rise up to fill the void, naturally, but

such things happen in IT. We'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

So, a good month or a bad month? I'll have to think about it in ten years.

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