Software

What if you could choose between a big budget and unquestioned authority?


If you had the choice between (a) tripling your budget for one year or (b) the authority to implement any technology or business changes without question for one year -- which would you choose? Granted, this is a decision you would make only in the realm of fantasy, but you can play along.

This is a tough question, because you might be able to do quite a bit with triple your budget, but for me -- I would make the second choice. Why? Because every day I see needs that I want to fill; I covet the opportunity to prove points that I have believed in for many years; and I want to address the inequities that I see in the workplace. For this, you need not only the budget, but the power! If my IT genie comes along and grants my wishes, I'll be ready.

My IT management wish list

  • I would like to prove that you can run your entire IT operation using open source or low-cost alternatives to mainstream hardware and software. Yes, Dorothy, there is productivity without Microsoft Office and, oh by the way, that's not your imagination -- your machine does run faster now.
  • I would like to prove that you can deliver a user's desktop and all their applications throughout the entire organization via thin client. I almost made this one happen -- I just ran out of time where I was -- and it was a beautiful thing to see. Imagine a daily environment where it doesn't matter where you sit or which machine you use -- your applications and settings travel with you. Imagine deploying an application to a couple of thousand machines in the time it takes you to install it on one and then sending out a message that says: In order to use the new X, just sign off and sign back in.
  • I would love to convince people that e-mail and files are data and that without context they have less value. A file with the attached e-mail is much more meaningful than the file sitting in a directory all alone -- even if that file is searchable. The same goes with e-mail; the thread of an e-mail conversation is more valuable than a single e-mail by itself. I would love to put into place the tools to treat each appropriately.
  • I would love to be able to say, "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part" to a superior and get away with it.
  • I would like to be able to hire and fire and adjust salaries to reward or punish based on productivity and an employee's worth to the organization -- all without the red tape of HR and other regulations.
  • I would like to see positions added in organizations where they are actually NEEDED and not because someone wants it.
  • I would like to see logic and thought applied to business processes -- not just knee jerk reactions, no thought at all, or --worse yet -- politics.
  • I would like anyone that says, "Do more with less," actually have to do more with less.
  • I would like organizations to make decisions based more on what is good for the customer and society and less on short term profits and shareholder equity.
  • I would like to prove that people can be as productive working at home as they are in the office.
  • I would like to prove that data centralization is a "good thing."
  • I would like to convince management all over the world that lifelong learning and continuous training/education is what separates stars from mediocrity; therefore, taking training and education seriously.
  • I would like anyone that has instituted an "across the board cut" to have to take an across the face blow to the head. Organizations are made up of discrete units that are not all the same -- don't treat them as if they are.
  • I would like organizations that claim that "employees are their greatest resource" to actually act like it.
  • I would like people to understand what customer service is.

Okay, most of the above could be instituted by a change in policy, business practice, or management philosophy. And as you can see, much of what I want to change is organizational, not technological. But that's only fitting because the true work of IT is in enabling change in an organization.

So now that I have had my crack at it, what about you? Which would you choose - budget or power, and why? Also, give me your list, whatever you choose. I'd love to see it!

33 comments
wrlang
wrlang

I know the question is asked in good faith as a novelty consumer of time and space. Many good ideas listed. But neither choice is any good. The wish list should consist of a set of auditable and enforceable policies and procedures that everyone needs to adhere to so that proving the case for any idea is consistent and achievable. This makes the question mute.

Gennady
Gennady

Will you be profitable after all these steps? will your employees stay with you or will they want to come if you fire and hire as you wish, with no warranties?

Marc 85902
Marc 85902

I LOVE It! I would love to be able to say, "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part" to a superior and get away with it. --WONDERFUL!!! I would like organizations that claim that "employees are their greatest resource" to actually act like it. I would like people to understand what customer service is. ---OOO-RAH! I would like organizations to make decisions based more on what is good for the customer and society and less on short term profits and shareholder equity. --WELL DONE! i would like anyone that says, "Do more with less," actually have to do more with less. SO WOULD I!

gerbo_san
gerbo_san

Without reading all the good post that I'm sure there are. I would like concurrence, acknowledgment by upper management, continuous improvement, work set by objectives not just goals.

rreed
rreed

Although your blog says a lot I could agree with, I would not want to work in an organization that gave you that kind of power. The reason we like to play these fantasy games is that reality can be frustrating. We would like to be able to have others sumarily agree with what we see as the technical merits, and not have to deal with organization behavior issues. After all, for most techies that is not our strong suit. But in the end, if you actually got the power you dream of, you just might end up proving: 1- That you need the HR department to save you from the equity issues and legal ramifications of your arbitrary determinations of "an employee's worth to the organization". 1- That managers who resisted your "logic and thought" actually understood their needs better than you, and were not just resisting change. 3- That there are at least significant tradeoffs, and probably significant downsides, to open source, thin client, and greater IT centalization. When I read this blog, two characters came to mind. Ramonus of Borg, and Mordak the Preventer of Information Services. Power begets tyrants.

rreed
rreed

This is not to say your blog didn't have its good points. It did. But there's a reason organizations don't give people like you that kind of power, Ramonus of Borg. Your "centralized is best", and "best technology regardless of organizational input" are reflective of the attitudes that created the character of Mordak the Preventer in the Dilbert comic strips. God save us from well-meaning techno-zealots.

steven.auerbach
steven.auerbach

Perhaps "centralized data is best" refers to costs of organizational knowledge lost in files on individual machines and thereby from organization benefit. Perhaps it is the added time/personnel cost of helping non-technical users locate misplaced files that are right under their own fingers, or the confusion of common and shared storage locales. Perhaps this is simply a dollars and sense issue.

dryflies
dryflies

I'll take the authority. 3X nothing is still nothing. I have to beg for everything I get. with authority, I would not have to beg.

kamal.ukey
kamal.ukey

Irrespective of the Budget or Authority, IT can deliver value only by doing the RIGHT thing. A scientific approach is required to find the right thing. In last few years we have been too engrosed into the Management, Budget, and User's perspective. By scientific approach I mean constant experimentation and evaluation of what works and what doesn't. Organizations needs to take a few risks to find those RIGHT things. I am almost sure that these RIGHT things are different for every Organization.

mmoran
mmoran

... after all, if your authority is "unlimited" then by definition it must include authority to spend all the money you want.

dnox1978
dnox1978

RE: What if you could choose between a big budget and unquestioned authority? - power - strangely or maybe not,my wish list is almost like yours - the biggest difference is that i don??t completely believe in thin client but as a complement Yes for the majority of desktop users. /Daniel aka danox

ruby.otero
ruby.otero

Yes and i would like to have more POWER, and yes i understand the great responsibility lies in it. Actually ur wishlist also reflect majority of my own. Anyway most of my big headache comes from people around us (non IT), they seem to be afraid or i think resistant to any simple changes. But is management enforce this changes maybe w/o exception,our role will only be in implementation side only and training users.

scott.leslie
scott.leslie

Spending more money usually means wasting more money. It is internal focused and doesn't add business value to the company. The authority to drive business change and lead through innovation is what is holding most large organizations back today. It opens the door for competition or takeover from all directions. Those that can't adapt and innovate are the losers in global competition and won't have any money to spend in the end.

roy.jones
roy.jones

Your scenario requires a beast out of ancient legend - a Manager who knows the meaning of that nasty authoritarian word "Command" - both to command others, and command the respect of others, while having the willingness to VISIBLY accept responsibility and accountability for their 'teritory' and actions. I'm sure we can all bring to mind a manager (or 10) who talks a good fight while being expert at keeping out of the firing line when it all goes bent!

jbartlett
jbartlett

Scott's point about the having or lacking the authority (and vision) to effect change is what separates the leaders from the followers is an excellent summation. The OP's list is very similar to what I would want do as well. I would put a huge emphasis on eradicating the politics in the workplace and weeding out the non-hackers. By non-hackers I mean the under performers, those who can't do their job and have no interest in improving themselves. Training and coaching would be provided for those who what to do better. The first person who tries to make someone else look bad to cover their own incompetencies gets sent home with a shoe print on their rear end. The managers who perpetuate bad or wasteful policies because they don't want to admit that the original idea was flawed would get the same treatment. I would rather reward someone who has the fortitude to stand up and say "This is wrong and here is how I will fix it" than perpetuate the the usual culture of "killing the messenger". If you look at this from the opposite viewpoint it is clear that money will never solve these issues. If money were the answer to problem resolution then why can't the government do a better job of running the country? JB

bastien
bastien

I want people to admit that they don't f*cking know it all and then be willing to go and learn it...too many people I know would rather create risk thru ignorance rather than appear 'weak' by admitting they don't know.

stan
stan

The authority, of course. With the authority, you can make such a difference to the productivity in most companies that getting the budget increased a few hundred percent is no problem. Thats assuming you are 100% correct in what you are trying to accomplish, of course.

gerbo_san
gerbo_san

Thats right, not just a comic quote. Are you people able to handle the heat? Of course the appropriate person in the correct position helps lots when building an organization, but I prefer having a leader than having a chief.

IT Generalist
IT Generalist

I would like to centralize management of all of our servers, desktops, laptops, network devices, mobile devices, network devices, printer, etc by implementing a CMDB with monitoring tools such as Microsoft Operations Manager, System Management Server and Helpdesk/Service Desk software. I would like to get training on new technologies and upgrades rather than being told to buy a book. Books help but classrooms provide you with collaborative environment where you can get answers to your questions quickly and share your thoughts and ideas. I would like to setup a plan to upgrade computers every 3 to 5 years to keep up with the latest technology and thus avoid any incompatibilities. To be able to hire contractors if needed to accomplish certain tasks to speed up the process rather than waiting for ever to get things done. Being IT Generalist, sometimes time is the luxury I don't have. Meet with the staff at least once, if not twice, a month to discuss on-going issues, new ideas, improvements, etc.

AWilliams
AWilliams

Youre wish list looks exactly like mine!

ricardo.herrera
ricardo.herrera

For your bullets #4, and from #9 onwards, GRANTED! (except perhaps the last one). Just go to work to a company in Europe!

Beoweolf
Beoweolf

There is a good reason for people using MS products. Has nothing to do with cost, technical superiority or even an attempt to make the IT department run better. The key word has and continues to be comfort: Office suite provides a level of comfort to its users. It is pretty much a de facto business standard. There are no standards in Unix, Linux nor the plethora of applications that run under them. As long as each vendor of "x"nix OS's continue to squabble, MS will maintain its place as a business and consumer standard. Give me the budget! I'd use it to pay staff a decent wage, representative of the effort, continuous learning needed to keep abreast of surging technology, I'd use it to replace the ageing equipment that most of us are forced to nurse for another 5 years before replacement is in the budget. Most of all, incorporate the software/hardware solutions to make the system secure by default - instead of having to squeeze in time to review volumes of logs in an effort to anticipate where the next brush fire will ignite into an all out conflagration, crisis.

lfloyd
lfloyd

With the increase in budget, replacing old hardware and software, increase the expenditures on Training, and hiring good employees would be the top priorities. This said If you had the unquestioned authority would you not have the power to incrase the budget for your department??

blambert
blambert

well said. Working in K12 Education, I have literally no budget at all and very little staff. It's an adventure to say the least. Don't forget: Money is Power.

j.bird
j.bird

I would like... Departments to work together for common benefit - rather than competing against each other to the detriment of the organisation. Policy to be policy, rather than the view of the person that you've asked, where if you ask another person you get a different 'policy'. That changes require only the validation of one person, rather than; form a committee, present to the board, write a paper. 'Sorry, did I say I had an idea, nix that, too much trouble....'. That the business understands with any service you really do get what you pay for and not what you deserve, there is good service and there is cheap service, there is no good cheap service.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

"I would like to be able to hire and fire and adjust salaries to reward or punish based on productivity and an employee???s worth to the organization ??? all without the red tape of HR and other regulations." What if your boss wherever you were could have done the same - still on the list now? Fired with no HR to tape to stop, for the reasons above?

Dominick-Murphy
Dominick-Murphy

I completely agree with the points of being able to manage your department without the "nice-ities" of HR. And yes I would be more than happy to work in that environment, I strive for perfection and always achieve excellence in everything I do and have absolutely no fear in standing by actions, IF I mess up then punish me, WHEN I succeed then reward me. That's how I've always run my departments and teams and have never had an issue with any of my staff...

roy.jones
roy.jones

I also strive for perfection - but not being God, I'll admit to a few mistakes. However, a GOOD HR department can be of real benefit in many areas. Staff welfare, training, education, etc - ours are pretty useful on the hiring and firing front as well. Before anyone asks, I'm a Senior Manager in IT not HR, and yes I do beleive that management attitude is a key factor.

rayanami
rayanami

1.) a clear job description and the management actually respecting it. 2.) to convince people that being adept with computers does not mean I can use any electronic gadget 10 seconds after I actually see it. 3.) to convince people that having skills to repair computers does not also mean that I can fix the water dispenser or aircons.

Manitobamike
Manitobamike

If one assumes the implication is that with full authority you would still have to fit within a smaller budget, then I would definitely choose the 3x budget as it would allow me to implement the changes that would in the long run save time/money but are beyond the vision of non IT executives.

techrepublic
techrepublic

With Absolute Authority I would grant myself more money.

MikeGall
MikeGall

I work in health care, with an outsourced IT department. I handle the cancer center attached to the hospital. Everything I do, needs to get approved by the software vendor, the hardware vendor, the IT department, and the hospital's senior management. Example of a problem, vendor gives me the specs for our new PC's, our PC's are leased, and already off lease, so we need to order new ones anyways. Well IT says we have to show why we need better computers (the current ones are 4 years old and off lease/warantee) then what they currently deploy. Senior management has to approve it because it will take several man weeks to deploy and thus is considered a major project. Anyways what I'd like: 1) respect for my skills, so when I make a decision it isn't second guessed all the way up to CFO/CEO 2) We have the money, and want to spend it on what will benifit us, get out of the way and let us do it. We have several million dollars worth of projects being held up, even though the government has already approved the items, and given us the money for it, and the bulk of the work will be handled by contractors, not require in house resources. 3) Focus on training. I'm a solo worker which = paged on vacations, and no training as I can't go away without leaving my work without a computer guru. 4) Freedom in hiring. We have the money for another guy, but the government won't let us hire a second guy, because they base staffing on patient load not need. So I manage, 6 servers, 3 major databases, 100 PC's, and end user questions, without a backup when I'm away. We are completely dependant on computers, if a PC goes down we have an oncologist that can't treat patients, and billing $300/hr, but apparently saving $40/hr is more important.

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