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.