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IT Executives who make exhorbitant promises to corporate stake holders

By Why Me Worry? ·
Having worked over 4 years in a large international law firm, I have seen my share of corporate politics and BS to last me a lifetime. One of my biggest annoyances and frustrations were with IT managers, directors, and executives who simply could not say "no" to a managing partner when he/she came to us with some half assed request for something that was technologically impossible or not feasible to implement. These "yes men" would first say yes, pass off some widget project to us, and expect us to perform miracles and magic tricks to make it happen. When we can't deliver on the project, these managers would pass the buck and blame us, the engineers and admins, for their poor lack of judgement and inability to manage properly. Please feel free to share your stories about incompetent and stupid IT managers who should not be in IT with their lack of technical and management skills. In my opinion, having an MBA does not make you a good IT manager if you can't distinguish realistic requests from bogus technology.

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IT Executives who make exhorbitant promises to corporate stake holders

by Tech Consultant In reply to IT Executives who make ex ...

I can understand the frustration shown here, IMHO this not unique and we all have faced similar situation during our working life, I don?t believe for a second that there are many technically competent IT manager out there, it?s a mix rarely seen. I have faced this situation throughout my career and I have yet to work for a technically sound manager.

I always felt that people management is completely different than technology management, am sure I will get murdered for this statement by all the IT manager present here but I felt that good people management skills does not make you a technically sound IT manager.

I have had same frustration of ?yes? to everything and of course the expectations to perform miracles. In cases where miracles were expected I had to manage that extremely carefully without having to sound that what was asked was almost impossible. In that situation I felt that I had to rely on my diplomatic skills and perhaps dig more at what user really want and more importantly why? If I understood that well then I was in position to suggest alternative(s) to achieve very same objective(s) without distressing the manger and more importantly the user.

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No problem with IT manager

by rayanami In reply to IT Executives who make ex ...

I have no problem with IT managers, since I'm the IT manager in our company. ^_^
I wouldnt propose anything that is technologically impossible since I know that my record would the one most affected if we cant deliver. Though things are not the same with other managers where they would demand new stuff implemented in our office without consulting on how long it might take.

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One one hand... on the other hand

by Dr_Zinj In reply to No problem with IT manage ...

The ability to see and understand technology capabilities as they apply to problems is a skillset totally different from the skillset of being able to manage existing capital/material resources for use, which are both different from the skillset of being able to manage people.

An MBA is likely to have the latter two sets, while an IT manager is likely to have the former two. The old pareto effect comes into play when looking for someone with all three sets in the same person.

Now there is a difference between a manager making unrealistic promises; and one that makes promises that require people to 'stretch'. If you're not making people stretch, at least a little, then your business is probably going down the tubes.

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1.21 $$$

by White Rabbit In reply to One one hand... on the ot ...

I usually say ?Yeah we can do that, but it will cost your department 1.21 jigabucks.? They usually start looking for another solution.

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Re: IT execs et al.

by pshiflet In reply to IT Executives who make ex ...

The problem I see most often is that non-technical management does not understand the difference between technically possible and technically realistic for their organization given time, resources, or corporate support. Since IT is most commonly seen as an expense or a tool, the limitation of IT resources is also often times overlooked or completely mis-understood by such non-technical individuals. This can make accurate, effective communication between the two groups very difficult, if not impossible. The result of this, unfortunately, is the hiring of more business-savy than tech-savy IT managers because most tech-savy individuals do not take the time to become more business-savy to meet these board room types of needs.

Don't get me wrong. I am not a manager of any sort and I don't agree with the results of this type of logic. I just see it everyday and can understand why it happens. The onus is thus on the technical staff to either integrate more effectively with the business to make that leap for themselves or learn better ways to communicate with their managers. Relate to what they know. Explain the pulls of time, personnel, functionality, money, and quality have on every project.

Lastly, the fact that any IT manager is not being held responsible for the missed deadlines or failed projects (realistic or not) of their department speaks volumes about how most corporations view IT. This "lower than management" status can make denying any request difficult, if not job suicide. Something to think about the next time you want to castrate your resident IT-ish manager.

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But do the ttechnically competent managers want to see?

by gardoglee In reply to Re: IT execs et al.

While you are right about those managers who are not technically competent to know better than to promise impossible things (who we will not call "incompetent", being polite and all), there is another category who should know better, but who make the same mistakes. Those are the managers who were once themselves technical people, who rose up the ranks until they were promoted to senior management (yes, it does happen), and then semm to have had lobotomies when they reached a level of authority which made them potentially dangerous. From what I've seen, it is like the infectious disease of willful ignorance passes from the other executives into those who arrived with technical credentials. And don't blame an MBA for this. I am one of many people who have MBAs or even business PhDs who bemoan the same stupidity on the aprt of management. Being a technical person with a business degree only makes it more painful to watch these idiotic mistakes being made, because you can then see that they are not only technically disastrous, but that they frequently also ignore sound business analysis. Even business managers are supposed to gather input on the realistic costs of a project before they approve it. The real disasters occur when a manager ignores the realistic estimates and substitutes numbers pulled from thin air which support the politically popular decision. That sort of mistake doesn't require a business degree, and a degree of any sort will not prevent it.

The sad fact is that most businesses have a political climate in which the real decision is made up front by an uninformed ego, and then everyone else is expected to carefully sift the data to provide only that which supports the preordained course. This sort of illogic isn't confined to the professional politicians in Washington, but is endemic everywhere. The larger the organization, the more likely this sort of mistake will be made, because anyone who has survived long enough to get to senior management did so by saying 'yes' whenever they were asked.

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Carve this on every boardroom in the nation

by Too Old For IT In reply to But do the ttechnically c ...

You have summarized in one paragraph what is wrong with every local/national/global business that has operated in the past 50 years:

The sad fact is that most businesses have a political climate in which the real decision is made up front by an uninformed ego, and then everyone else is expected to carefully sift the data to provide only that which supports the preordained course. This sort of illogic isn't confined to the professional politicians in Washington, but is endemic everywhere. The larger the organization, the more likely this sort of mistake will be made, because anyone who has survived long enough to get to senior management did so by saying 'yes' whenever they were asked.

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Educate when you can and celebrate

by YourAverageManager In reply to IT Executives who make ex ...

In other words, a decision was made to accept and proceed with a project without your necessary input.

I suppose that if you could document why your input is necessary it would likely focus on being the Subject Matter Expert (SME), and demonstrate why your consultation and inclusion within the decision making process benefits all stakeholders, including the MBA Manager.

You were not invited to the menu planning table, and were only asked to serve up the feast. From your description, it appears that the manager needs to consider a partnering approach because of a lack in technical depth. In partnering we are all part of the team, all cards are dealt face up, communication is two way, we do not leave any member of the team out in the cold.

On the other hand, if the manager has attempted to partner and consistently receives only barriers, the manager needs to start looking at alternate plans for tactical attainment of leadership?s goals. If we can not do it using internal resources, then we look outside the organization when it is just that important.

Find myself wondering why any manager would make commitments without providing a least a simple business case for proceeding. It is easy to leave a back door open by stating that "It sounds very interesting and simple enough, let me get back to you with some details on this project proposal. I?ll ball park Time, Cost, and Scope before we make any commitments or decision to proceed." Do the analysis then present that rough result. Apparently, at a minimum this is where your input and contribution would fit.

But, what do I know? Next to nothing by the description provided; yet have contributed more in word count here than the individual to which I am responding.

Now for the example; the executive VP asked me (an average IT Manager) to develop an OS so that we could avoid purchasing MS Windows. I did not tell him "No", there was no need. Let the requestor say no. What I needed to do was take the time to cover very roughly the Time, Cost, and Scope, reserving smiles and laughter until the VP started laughing. Technologists assume complex motivations on the part of others and many times that is simply not the case; the decision-makers are simply unaware of what the project will take, they do not understand what they are requesting.

Educate when you can and celebrate those occasions when individuals discover why your input is necessary.

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Estimation Meeting

by Too Old For IT In reply to Educate when you can and ...

You describe an effective prelude to an estimation meeting. My preference is to have those with ALL the stakeholders, including the C-Level requestor, present for the time it takes to gather the facts for a realistic estimation.

I am not that amazed that C-Level folks "can't find the time" until the meeting is marked as "scheduled at so-and-so's convenience".

I am further not amazed that most projects fail at this point, simply for being a waste of time and capital relative to other suitable alternatives.

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Kitchen - heat - etc - a 50-y-old++ problem

by drowningnotwaving In reply to IT Executives who make ex ...

I laugh - BIG LOL - when I hear the lament of the down-trodden IT manager.

This problem has been around since commercial systems - indeed since any system has been developed. I can imagine someone saying to Pascal's engine: "well that's nice but what about banking over the phone?" (okay - the phone maybe wasn't around but if you can work with me a little on this . . .).

An IT manager has a responsibility to learn how to communicate and educate effectively at all levels - their own management and the non-technical (sometimes known as those goddamn users or other similar terms) - included.

Being the carpet upon which the uneducated wipe their feet is a CHOICE made by IT managers who are unwilling to learn how to communicate, educate, advocate and control.

If nothing else, the ones that do get these skills - they "learn to earn". They get the big-end jobs. And yeah probably get to wipe their feet on the ineffectual (with or without their MBA to rub in the mud) when it is the easy escape.

I am sure they drown their personal anguish and sorrow for whatever hurt they have caused, sipping pina coladas in the 15 additional years retirement in a beach-front villa.

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