Have you ever had one of those
conversations where you wanted to take someone by the ears, turn them
around, point them at the smoking wreckage they call an
infrastructure, and say LOOK, for crying out loud? Have you
ever done it, had them look you dead in the eye, and say But it'sworking other places, so all this theory is pointless?
A few years ago I wrote an article
about how people never fail in IT. We can always redefine what it
means to succeed so that everyone looks good. It's part of the charm
of what we do; metrics for success change so easily. A few words
here, a handshake there, and the greatest disasters get recorded as
shining successes. The nightmares of support, the exhausted staff,
and the over funded, under trained and performing departments justget overlooked.
At some point the pain gets good to
people. They start to like it. As I mentioned in my blog on trying
to hunt the elephant in the room no one will talk about, the way
things are serve many purposes. In my immediate case it means I do
not have to do much to get by. Just take my licks, do as I'm ordered
even when it's wrong, and collect a paycheck. Every once in a while
one of the Powers that Be will throw me a bone to prove they want anarchitecture.
Business also seems to thrive, despite
our mishaps and trials. They get their jobs done around outages,
horrid response times, and occasional outright stupidity on our parts
leading to major events crashing out multiple sites. They accept, or
at least pay for, an organization exhausted past the point of evenanalyzing the incoming data to stop the pain.
The magic of redefining success is at
work here. We've defined success as either surviving another day or
getting a system up, and damn whatever happens to the support
afterwards. Its wrong. It's nearly impossible to keep up for any
length of time. It allows people to display their talents and skills
as they keep the place running and it definitely lets people show
just how hard they work for the money they make. Whether we work
anything like smart rather than hard doesn't really matter at the endof the day, it seems.
I've mentioned many times that pride is
my downfall. I'm a proud man, driven by both a desire to excel and a
determination to serve. I push myself constantly in work, in play,
and in life. I push my teams to excel, to think sideways, to grapple
with the twin snakes that climb into their cradle and throttle thembefore lunch. Ahem...
The point is that I have trouble just
sitting back, even when the environment defines success as just doing
what we are told. I know what environments where you do it right
look like. I know what happens when people know how things work, why
they work, and why they break. I have, many times, tasted the
satisfaction of creating and maintaining dial-tone IT, watched it
reduce staffing levels, held the tactical pieces to enable strategic
agility, and felt the quiet pride of a job well done but unknown.
Frankly, I like those experiences better than the constant struggle,
the sudden discovery of failure in turn-key systems, and the
chaos surrounding things you just shove in without any understanding
of either their architecture or how they fit into the biggertechnical picture.
So, I've set my team to doing what's
right. We'll get in trouble for it, I'm sure. The people who assure
me in one meeting they will support doing it right will
double-cross me in another in the name of expedience. That's just
business. So long as my team keeps moving methodically forward,
stabilizing one little bit of it at a time, I'll go forth and do mylittle bit.
Heck, maybe at some point I can show
the customers they really can expect more. If that happens, though,
the definition of success will change...and that will put me back
squarely in the sights of those who profit from the current
Onward and upward. The team has a lot
of clean-up work to do. Hopefully we can get it done before anotherdistraction shows up on the horizon.