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  • #2293111

    Unqualified IT managers


    by wordworker ·

    Recently I was in a meeting with a vendor, a company who licenses software to one of my healthcare clients, and I couldn’t believe my ears. The Chief Technology Officer of this high company (with >$500 million annual sales) didn’t know what VMware was, and had never heard of Citrix.

    Is it just me, or is there a really bad trend in corporate America to promote “business” people to high-level management positions within IT? I mean, how can any self-respecting person function in a CTO position with so little knowledge of the IT world?

    No wonder there aren’t any career paths for REAL technology professionals — airheads are being promoted instead of gearheads.

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    • #3302820


      by fluxit ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      There are many factors playing into jobs these days. Ideally one would think that qualifications are important but they are not as important as some other factors.

      A position like CTO is part of what is called the inner circle in Corporate America. This inner circle is guarded by a gatekeeper and the members tend to be friends and family of the owner of the company. Often these people lack adequate qualifications but possess a degree of emotional security between the members of the circle.

      At times because of strategic plans, a highly technical person (CTO) is brought into the circle to advance some sort of technology strategy. It is usually a first time for him in a CTO position. Because this person is from outside the inner circle the gatekeeper, who is usually opposed to bringing someone from the outside in, runs this individual off after about 18 months accounting for the high turnover in these positions.

      The people in the inner circle do not think like you and me. The thought processes usually center business planning and financials and not on a specific technology. They tend to seek cheap sources of money to fund what the whim of the month is. ie the cost of capital may be only 4% but the internal rate of return may be 18% resulting in a 14% margin. Bank financing is usually very expensive cutting into the margin.

      So in short, it is not a surpise that Billy-Bob does not know technology or even how to leverage specific technologies. Typically, he would review financial statements seeking ways to either glean cost out of the business or ways to increase revenue via the technology. Rarely, does technology glean cost out – it rather redistributes cost to other activities.

      Lower level staff such as directors and line managers would come up with ways to make the guidance happen.

      On another point, I find in lower level positions salary is more important than qualifications. One CPA hired a felon with a bankruptcy in his background to work with financial systems simply because he asked for $10k less than the lowest other. He had marginal experience and was fired one year later. The firm achieved what they wanted.

    • #3302807

      re: unqualified

      by afram ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      I think it’s true that non-propeller-heads are usually put in IT management positions. Something about lacking people skills to manage the team effectively – the company loses a good tech and gains a bad manager.

      Starting off as a tech in the trenches is so important because you learn what the company uses, what problems need to be fixed, what is REALLY important, and what the company will need in the future.

      I was one of two IT people at my last employer (me and the IT manager). My boss quit one day unexpectedly. Even though I had been there for 4 years, when I asked to take the management role, the president said he never even considered promoting me because he was going to hire an outsider. I convinced him that would be silly because I was most familiar with our systems since I set up practically everything. The pres was nervous about it, but he promoted me to manager after a 3 month trial period. I think it worked out well – the IT group usually completed 5 decent sized projects a year. We completed 23 my first year as manager.

      I guess it helps if you are in a smaller company.

    • #3302803

      Don’t get me started

      by jdmercha ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      This is my biggest pet pieve about industry. CEO’s are responsible to stock holders. Stock holders want to see a return on their investment. Top level managers must be finance guys in order to be able to understand ROI. To this end the role of a CIO (or CTO) is to sell IT ideas to the rest of the top managment team. If the CIO is not an MBA the managment team will not listen to him.

      Thus a CIO needs to be an MBA and needs to have excellent sales skills. They do not need technical skills at all. The directors under the CIO need the technical skills and the ability to communicate their needs to the CIO, so the CIO can sell it to the top brass.

      This leads to IT as being viewed as a cost to be cut rather than an asset to be leveraged. When companies start to fail because they didn’t maintain a technology advantage, the pedulum will swing once more to hiring techies as CIO’s. (Then when ROI goes down the pendulum will swing back again to the MBA’s).

      • #3302095


        by fluxit ·

        In reply to Don’t get me started

        First, you need to understand that the government creates a cultures via the laws. The ONLY reason CPA’s and the financial focus EVER came into such pre-eminent existence is because Congress requires them for tax accounting purposes. Overtime they have weedled thier way into every aspect of the business. In some cases, they do more harm than good.

        Accounting actually looks at IT two ways; 1. as a expense to be written of the books, 2. as a capital asset adding to the value of the business. This is usually done when intellectual capital and property is at the center of the business. Traditionally, business views IT as an expense.

        At the top management level, focus is not on operational or tactical details but strategic vision of the company. This is usually seen in terms of dollars. Technology will be sold to them in these terms; dollars saved or dollars earned.

        The major problems lays in bridging that gap between the expectations and realizations regarding what technology can perform. Very few people are able to bridge that gap and narrow that gap successfully. It does take a hands on roll up the sleeves kind of person but not in the sense of an administrator or techie.

        One major stumbling block is the sanctuary. Everyone loves thier rice bowl. Techies know how to do build a system better. Business people know how to make money better. It is the competitive odds that strain the workplace and make it difficult to achieve much.

      • #3304785


        by dsimar ·

        In reply to Don’t get me started

        I would have to agree with the general theme of this thread because I recently attneded a CIO confrence in Rocehster NY and was suprised. Coming from corporate lever IT I started my own consulting business and it grew. Now with over 5 years under my belt I feel that I’ve left others in the dust be of my ability to forsee pitfalls and avoid them. Well while I was attending a local B2B Tech Expo in Rochester NY I was shocked at the ignorance of IT that a roundtable of IT Managers and CIO’s had. It was literally like sitting in on a pre A+ class. These folks were asking BASIC questions that are answered in the first few days of A+. I was SHOCKED at how such idiots could be CIO’s and IT Managers! Really in the End I felt really sorry for the Upstate NY business that were represented there. To top it off the WORST one of them was a local “CIO” from a Rochester College. This person was clearly a “presidential appointment”. This person in NO WAY understood the basic concepts of the discussion or even chimed in anything usefull. I really feel bad for my local economy. If these people are helping to make stregic technology decisions in Western New York companies then WNY is going belly up soon. I also feel its a case of careless hiring too. NY is all too happy to hire “patronage” jobs. People who know someone and geta job. They don’t seem to serve a purpose and suck a FREE paycheck but that’s ok because they know the CEO peronsally or go to church with him so that makes it ok.

        In the end I coudn’t stand that roundtable discussion and left about about 10 minutes. These are the people I deal with constantly when I sell my IT service contracts and they stare blankly from across the table as I’m speaking. Its a sad time to be in such a great profession as IT.

    • #3302070

      Generals, 1st Sargeants

      by gralfus ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      A leader shouldn’t have to know all the details. Instead he/she should have trusted staff that know the systems extremely well, and seek their advice on decisions regarding those systems.

      I had a former Army guy as a manager, and he said that good generals would consult their 1st sargeant on certain matters, simply because that man had been in the position for many years and knew all the potential problems and loopholes. They gave the sargeant leave to speak freely so they could get an honest appraisal of the situation.

      The same holds true for companies and IT/Business. The CTO and CFO have to get great advice from their troops and then report to the boss and board so they can make an intelligent decision.

      Unfortunately, there are not many companies where this is done, so millions to billions are lost on stupid decisions, wasted efforts, bad planning, and so on.

      Another view on this issue is TQC. Total Quality Control should always assume that the line workers know more about their part of the process than the higher-ups, and thus should be consulted regarding technical issues. If they have nothing to say, so be it. But sometimes, they have insights that void plans that look good on paper.

      • #3299197

        Reply To: Unqualified IT managers

        by lanceanz ·

        In reply to Generals, 1st Sargeants

        Your response is the most in line with my thinking. The big danger is where upper management doesn’t listen to the people who do know. IT systems have become more and more complex (I didn’t say “better”) and for the larger issues someone needs to do a balancing act. The most technical people probably have stronger technical biases, but of course a non-techy CTO is likely to have biases for other reasons. What I find most disturbing is that organisations have an ever increasing number of levels between the implementors and the top level. The opinion of the people who actually have to do the work – and more importantly maintain it – is much less likely to reach a CTO than in the past. But if the CTO is really good, they’ll do their best to make sure they don’t get all their advice from people who will never be directly affected by her or his decision. If the CTO thinks they are technical (and what’s the chances of them _really_ being in touch?) then they may be less likely to seek all views.

      • #3313825

        OK, but…

        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to Generals, 1st Sargeants

        Shouldn’t a general have at least heard of a Bradly? Perhaps know what it does? I’m not saying he needs to know how to fix it in the field, or even use it [hands on] but should know it’s there!

    • #3301961

      Lots of reasons…….none have to do with IT

      by dafe2 ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Years ago I remember a guy that worked for me was laughing and making snyde remarks about a doctor that couldn’t figure out some “stupid” error on his PC……

      I asked the tech if it was possible that the doctor had more important things on his mind – like maybe saving lives?

      My point is we all have our roles and if we appreciate feedback and other views, we can advance in our careers & learn.
      Officers of the company do not need details……..just where & when to find them.

      Simply stated, at this level you need a dynamic sales guy with an appreciation and respect for what technology can do to advance the business.

      There really is a 50,000 foot view, and these guys give us a seat at that table. Most of these guys realize they have no “real” knowledge of IT, and rely on our expertise to make projects fly.

      You just have to laugh……..most of these types have that “can do” attitude that makes our jobs challenging & stressful all at the same time.

      At our company, our CTO has a good respect for IT and realises he (more often than not)contributes a great deal of stress in our server rooms.

      We remind him about the stress / hapiness ratio on many occasions :-)………….HOWEVER some of his “oddball” ideas & procedures where actually very CREATIVE and have dramatically IMPROVED productivity and the RELIABILITY of our systems – hopefully your guy has a good sense of humour & appreciates his limits……..and your valuable skills.

      We can learn a lot from these guys………they provide a very different view of IT.

      • #3304683

        Agree 98%

        by busy_bee ·

        In reply to Lots of reasons…….none have to do with IT

        I agree with you that anyone at the “C” level should have the 50,000 foot view, and I appreciate you pointing out that this is an important part of the direction setting that trickles down into projects and tasks that make up our livlihood.

        However, the CIO/CTO should have a firm understanding of current technology at the conceptual level, and also should have a good view of technical trends and what is happening in the tech marketplace.

        It shouldnt scare you that your CTO cannot configure a Cisco router or hasnt programmed since FORTRAN77, or even cant cite the 7 OSI layers. But to my way of thinking, a CTO that needs to ask “What’s a Citrix?” cannot make well informed decisions for his technology organization.

        • #3304647

          Agree that Current Tech Familiarity Necessary

          by a_dangerous_mind ·

          In reply to Agree 98%

          I agree that a current and firm understanding of current technology and trends is necessary. I’ve worked more in the development world, and upper level managers who do not understand current development practices run the risk of losing good developers. If they direct their subordinates to continue archaic practices based upon their own 1980’s experience with COBOL and FORTRAN, shame on them. Having good subordinates who themselves are up on current trends and technology and asking them for their take is also necessary. What the upper managers may receive may not be a reinforcement of their sentimental memories the way we did things back on good ol’ COBOL, but it will be realistic. If an upper level manager surrounds himself or herself with yes-men (yes-people?), though, a source of realistic feedback on current trends and technology may be strangled in the cradle.

        • #3304582

          So explain it…

          by larry.johnson25 ·

          In reply to Agree 98%

          I’ve been a developer since 1987, when we were called “programmer/analysts.” Back in 2000, I asked the exact same question: “What is Citrix?” because at that time, I didn’t know. Now I do, and I still use it regularly.
          My point is, everybody has to learn something for the first time.
          So, explain it, along with a few alternatives, and move on. That’s what it means to be a part of a staff who’s job it is to inform and influence the decision maker.

          Just my two-cents — which is usually over-valued.

        • #3299344

          As they say

          by dafe2 ·

          In reply to So explain it…

          The only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.

          As I said in my post a leader does not necessarily need to know the answer, just where to get it.

          I’d rather work with somebody that asks the question, Be it a leader or a Peer for that matter.

          Your sentence:

          “explain it, along with a few alternatives, and move on. That’s what it means to be a part of a staff who’s job it is to inform and influence the decision maker.”

          says it all actually.

    • #3304813

      are expert nurses also goog nursing managers

      by d.lambrechts ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      As always, it’s anoying to find managers with little knowledge in high positions, but on the other hand, we need to answer the question as to what is the role of a manager.

      It’s a known fact that the best technician, nurse or cop, isn’t always the best manager, because management requires other skills than those required in the field.

      BUT, there is an other aspect as to the promotion of people: they are always promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. This is the real reason why so many managers are lacking to manage what they are supposed to.

      So, the real problem is not that managers aren’t technicians, but is how to avoid to promote good people to a level of ‘not coping’ anymore.

    • #3304790

      Is this why CTO lifespan is about 1 year?

      by questor1 ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      The larger the company, the shorter the career lifespan of a CTO or a CIO.

      Is is plain irresponsible for a CTO to not be familiar with the most basic software such as VMware or Citrix.

      Some may say that a CIO or CTO has “people” skills in addition to tech understanding. It sounds like your CIO is missing at least one of these base requirements.

      Your CTO should hang onto his hat, because lack of tech understanding will cause him to lose his job shortly unless ha has political connections within your company!

    • #3304776

      Don’t judge hastily

      by skibum ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      It was only after peeking my head out of the Windows cocoon after 20 years did I first hear of VMWare. Citrix I’ve heard of, but the point remains: There are many situations where even an ueberboss may not be exposed to certain IT requirements or vendors, even in the $500 million range. It’s not an excuse not to think in the alternative, but hey, some cocoons have pretty tough shells.


    • #3304769

      Airheads versus Gearheads

      by jim.snitil ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      One of the biggest challenges I can think of is taking a gearhead who knows and thrives on the nuts and bolts of making technical things work and trying to make him a manager. Although I agree that you must have been living in a cave to not have heard of VMWare or Citrix, so long as the CTO has been prudent in both hiring the right technical types while providing them with the proper work environment to flourish and grow, he stands a good chance of being successful. An airhead versus a gearhead typically can navigate more effectively with other airheads and it becomes the gearheads responsibility to educate the CTO to effectively deliver the right messages without the tech-speak which leads to funding approval from senior airheads and new toys for the gearheads.

    • #3304754

      Unqualified in WHOSE Eyes?

      by psinaz ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      An IT Manager’s job is to hire qualified personnel, maintain standards, and ensure customer satisfaction. Without performing the first two tasks correctly, the third will never come about.

      IT Managers interact with many other personnel, not just IT ?gearheads?. A successful IT Manager must interact with other Management Staff such as Sales, Accounting and Human Resources, just to name a few. Today’s IT Manager should have a good general knowledge about hardware and software, however the deep down specifics belong to the technicians.

      Unfortunately, many IT Technicians and “gearheads” do not possess the ?management skills? needed to properly run an IT department. Many IT Technician?s that wish to move into management roles take business management courses so they may see the ?overall business picture?.

      • #3317022


        by jdmercha ·

        In reply to Unqualified in WHOSE Eyes?

        “A successful IT Manager must interact with other Management Staff ” very true. Generally speaking this requires a people person. Typically sales people are the most people oriented while techies tend to be the least people oriented.

        “many IT Technicians and “gearheads” do not possess the ?management skills? needed to properly run an IT department” By the same token, many accountants do not have the management skills to run any department. And many good managers do not have the skills to run an IT department. This makes it more difficult for techies to become managers, because they are not expected to be capable.

        What you want is the best of both worlds. Someone with both business and technical skills. Having both myself, I can tell you that the business skills are much easier to learn than the technical skills.

    • #3304753

      Airheads vs Gearheads

      by macleemac ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Since I’m one of those non-techie managers let me add my perspective.

      My job is to make sure you have the tools you need to do your job, to run interference for you when customers complain you didn’t respond quickly enough, to manage a budget, do all the paperwork that you don’t like doing, and to keep you in the loop on the ‘big company picture’ that will impact both your job and the technical infrastructure you support. Your job is to keep that infrastructure humming because, as with most of the gearheads I know, that is what you really like doing – not the administrative stuff I deal with.

      Keep in mind that IT changes so quickly these days that no one knows every nuance of every application, interface, or architecture. Thus senior managers will probably have technically competent middle managers or employees who are valuable resources when they need technical answers / information – or they turn to industry magazines, etc. Finally, it’s still a fact in business today that senior managers making very expensive business deals want to deal with other senior managers. Thus any questions about VMWare, Citrix, etc. will be directed to a ‘technical representative’, not to the CTO.

      The trend to promote ‘business’ or ‘sales’ people into high-level management won’t change anytime soon. But there are two things you can do about it. Become that ‘technical representative’ who is the mentor / technical guru for the CTO. Or, if you really want to become the CTO, then work out a professional development plan with your manager that will get you the education and varied business experience you’ll need to get there – keeping in mind that, long-term, that track will move you further and further away from the hands-on, day-to-day technical stuff.


      • #3304686

        Good advise

        by romerogt ·

        In reply to Airheads vs Gearheads

        Macleemac is right, for some time I worked as the “tech consultant” for CTOs, this lets you learn about what managment really is. I’m now in middle managment at IT and our CTO is helping our team to improve managment skills and get “above” the techie world, that is, for the ones who would love to be CTOs or start our own companies.

        I’ve worked with tech and non-tech CTO/CIO, in both cases there where some that where really good and others not so much (I have allways learned from them, so I cannot talk bad about any of them). Sometimes a techie might be more an obstacle if he is has biased opinions about technologies, just as a non-techie would drive you crazy when you need to explain why you need to invest in antivirus, firewall and IDS.

      • #3299223

        Well said, and thank you!

        by edhinsandiego ·

        In reply to Airheads vs Gearheads

        I couldn’t agree more. As the non-gearhead IT Director/CIO for a university, I find that I am called on to participate in all aspects of our organization, not just IT. I believe this is because I have held positions on both the administrative and the academic side of the higher ed house, and have experience at both small and large, public and private institutions. Obtaining that experience and the academic tickets, with a couple of “subject matter expert” side trips working in the software arena, paved the way for me to obtain this leadership role, both for our IT unit and in our organization as a whole. And did I mention how much reading and research I do to keep up, how many conversations I have with all the managers, directors and VPs at our university to understand their needs, and how well all the techies work with my techy managers on our wonderful team? And that we have the results to prove it?! And how in the end, no matter what organization you work for, it takes a group of committed people with many talents making decisions every day, large and small, and working hard, every day, to bring a great product or service to your customers? Best regards, Eileen

      • #3317099

        Well said, but…..

        by jdmercha ·

        In reply to Airheads vs Gearheads

        “My job is to make sure you have the tools you need to do your job…” I agree 100%. Too bad not many other managers do.

        “…do all the paperwork that you don’t like doing…”. Maybe some people, but I bet most of us would trade jobs with you (and salaries) in a heartbeat.

        “Thus senior managers will probably have technically competent middle managers…” True, but a senior manager can be technically competent too.

        “…senior managers making very expensive business deals want to deal with other senior managers” True again, but I think a technically competent senior manager has a big advantage.

        “The trend to promote ‘business’ or ‘sales’ people into high-level management won’t change anytime soon. ” Too few people look at the complete history of things. This is a cyclical thing. As IT spending goes up, business managers will be promoted to top IT positions, to cut costs. Then as businesses fail to maintain a technological edge technology people will be promoted to the top IT positions, to regain that edge.

        “..then work out a professional development plan with your manager that will get you the education and varied business experience you’ll need to get there ” I’ve never come across a manager willing to do this. And getting the education and experience is still no guaranty.

    • #3304741

      IT Management

      by jcowie ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      In my experience the best IT Managers/CIO’s I have met and dealt with have a mix of business and technology.

      I have found managers who started in technology retail business and then moving into corporate/government circles gives the manager the skills to be able to set a technical direction and develop a stratgey that assists the business side of his/her company.

      I have seen some managers with 100% technical background take over departments and completely ailenate the company managers and develop a technical startegy that does not fit the company.

      On the flip side I have seen some managers with 100% business skills and no technical skills run an IT dept and stuff it up completly as they leave all decisions to vendors who preach that they have your companies interest at heart.

      Managers today must be able to develop an IT vision but also find the best business fit to achieve this the manager must posses both skills.

      • #3304663

        The Fear Factor

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to IT Management

        Personally I’d be intensely suspicious of manager who was technologically up. They’d come up with the clever idea of hiring in a gopher, paying it peanuts and allowing me to find a more rewarding career opportunity, thereby saving the company a considerable amount of money. Equally if I was profoundly up on finances and salesmanship and still a technological wizard (impossible in my opinion) they’d be scared stiff of me and do me up the back at the next golf session with the CFO.
        I like my box, I’ll stay in mine if you stay in yours.

    • #3304656

      Business 1st, tech 2nd

      by greg houston ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Witout good business knowledge, tech prowess is useless at the management level. The reason for non-tech CIO’s in many firms is that the alpha geek who had the job before escalated the cost of IT and didn’t provide good customer sat. Money is tight, and must be spent wisely – seldom on the leading edge solution geeks want. Solutions must be rock solid & easy to use for our customers, the employees of the firm.

      • #3299334

        How about an English major as CFO?

        by isapp ·

        In reply to Business 1st, tech 2nd

        When was the last time a non-financial person was named Chief Financial Officer? If a CFO must understand financial and accounting procedures, why doesn’t a CIO need to understand technology? How can a CIO make intelligent decisions when he/she doesn’t know what resources are available to implement best practices?

    • #3304654

      My humble opinion

      by seamus ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Management is more about people skills than it is about Techie skills.

      Many techies are more interested in working with the computers and locking themselves in their office fixing the problem than interacting with the different levels of the companies.

      That is not to say that a CTO shouldn’t know what Citrix is or what the different technologies are of course they should. After all it is the responsibility of the upper management to look at the issues and develop strategies.

      As far as being able implement it that is a waste of resources. He should be there making sure that the tech’s have what they need and removing obstacles of the techies. More the political wrangling type stuff.

      Before you write back I am a techie making the move to management and having a hard time taking my hands off and leaving the real tech?s get the job done.

    • #3304651

      Communication vs technical skills

      by zaferus ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Often executives prefer an IT manager who has good communications skills. I’ve seen both the good and bad of it.

      Really an IT manager who’s a good communicator can get the resources that are needed and “sell” that new IT project that needs to get done. Also since these personality types are good at being part of the ‘exec club’ they can bring a lot of gain to IT departments which are generally negatively viewed and often our fiscal needs are misunderstood by management.

      However, the bad of it is that IT techs who are really good BS’ers and behind kissers normally are all too good at snowing an IT manager who doesn’t know a compaq flash card from a ram dimm. Politics can get really bad in IT departments and the good techs can get frustrated and disheartened.

      As well non-technical managers have a really bad habit of saying “yes” to executive management in projects that are nightmares in the making without understanding the technical requirements or risks.

      Just my experience.


    • #3304584

      VMware and Citrix – a litmust test

      by rkannan ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Apologies if I sound little rude.

      Cannot count the number of citrix/VMware experts
      who do not know the abcs of enterprise architecture
      or integration.

      I would consider this as a blessing as the CTO
      will not run around stuffing citrix and VMware
      into everything.

      Thanks. Since when did these two infrastructure
      components become litmus test for being a capable

      I would have thought,
      being able to relate business goals into technical capabilities
      sdlc and sei cmm
      roi on IT projects
      application partitioning
      SW Project Portfolio
      etc to be signatures of technical skills for a
      CTO not to mention the soft skills.


    • #3304554

      Techies Preferred But Not Required

      by dpatters ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Would you take your car to a service center where the manager didn’t know the difference between engine oil and transmission oil? Do you expect the store manager at K-Mart to know how things are done within the store? Only a fool appoints a gatekeeper who doesn’t know which side of the gate things belong.

      Ideally, promote a techie who understands the business side. If no such person, promote a business person who has a keen interest in the technical side, and is well respected by the geeks. Things will be tough enough for the new IT manager, even with respect.

      I fear there has been so much talk about the need for IT to understand and be involved from the business side that CEOs may be inclined to “make it happen” by putting a business person in the CIO slot. The current CIO may be contributing to this inclination by trying to impress his boss with his techno-speak which only confirms just how impossible these IT people are to deal with.

      My advice for techies who don’t want to find a non-techie for their boss: think of yourself as a business person first, and a geek second. If everyone on your IT staff thinks that way, there will always be a candidate for promotion.

      • #3294311

        Position hasn’t solidified yet.

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to Techies Preferred But Not Required

        The trend toward CIO / CTO seems to have come about because the directors felt at least one of there close circle should have an inkling of this technology stuff as it seems to be quite important. His/her two most important responsibilities as far as I’m concerned is
        1) Stopping some vendor who happens to be a member of the MD’s club selling a total platform change to him.
        2) Re-wording IT strategy in business speak.

        As always when dealing with bean counters it’s the intangibles that cause problems.

        Anybody think we got through Y2K reasonably successfully because the board understood the technical issues ?. No they read a financial news report and then ran around making sure every body else in the company knew it was an issue.

        P.S. I know vaguely know what VMware is but I’ve never in 20+ years worked in an environment where it was used, and only for one year where citrix was, so maybe the fella’s lack of knowledge is n’t such a surprise after all.

        • #3294137

          Also when the “Bean Counters” look at the hardware

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Position hasn’t solidified yet.

          They only take into consideration the actual boxes and other items and never place a value on the DATA stored on the HDD’s. To them an unseen commodity is an unimportant item but without it the company can not continue to function.

          In every case that I’ve dealt with the stored DATA is far more valuable than any of the hardware that the accountants place so much value upon.


        • #3291949

          Data as an asset, need a depreciation rate then

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Also when the “Bean Counters” look at the hardware

          Hardware fun usually comes from purchasing in my experience, when they agree to a small unimportant change to the spec. Once I ended up with the correct boxes but with small business server on them because the vendor was doing a deal and it’s just the same as the full version. You’d have thought the fact it was free was a bit of clue, technically astute or not.

        • #3291715

          Tony Sorry but I find that funny

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Data as an asset, need a depreciation rate then

          SBS on every box that would prove interesting to setup wouldn’t it?

          Or even better a 6 month trial version on each box.

          Sorry but I just can not stop laughing it’s so funny particuarly as I didn’t have to deal with it!

          But with a Government project about 20 years ago now I suggested running a dedicated Fiber Optic cable around AU for the various departments along with the Government owner Telco roll out. It would have only cost them the relatively small amount for the cable. Of course this was knocked on the head against my objections about the Telco stealing bandwidth that wasn’t being used initially and when required would not be available. Well 15 years latter one guess what happened and being typical Bureaucrat’s they have spent the next 5 years auguring how to roll out the new cable AU wide. What was originally going to cost only a few million $ is now up to several Billion and the best part is the Bureaucrats want to lay it beside the existing cable to save the cost of new surveys. Boy am I glad I stopped doing any Government work 19 years ago.

          But I still hear tales of woe from the guys who are still there and we have a good laugh about just how the Bureaucrats work and waste billions in an attempt to save a few $.


    • #3304547

      I agree!!

      by daveinohio2 ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      I think that IT managers should have a strong background in Computer Technology. I think just putting a regular business person in the role of IT Mgr. is like asking Ray Charles to teach Driver’s Education!!!

    • #3304546

      I agree!!

      by daveinohio2 ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      I think that IT managers should have a strong background in Computer Technology. I think just putting a regular business person in the role of IT Mgr. is like asking Ray Charles to teach Driver’s Education!!! Both are really briliant ideas….NOT!!!

    • #3304545

      I agree!!

      by daveinohio2 ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      I think that IT managers should have a strong background in Computer Technology. I think just putting a regular business person in the role of IT Mgr. is like asking Ray Charles to teach Driver’s Education!!! Both are really brilliant ideas….NOT!!!

    • #3299321

      Techs vs Non-Techs

      by mlanphea ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      My first answer is – Of course non-techs should not be the CIO/CTO. If they are promoted/hired to that position, they need to get educated. It may be understandable (to some companies) to hire business managers to tech positions…because they want to have someone there who understands their business. But, they better be sure that that person also understands tech, or they may pay a higher price than they can afford for the mistakes that will occur. It’s like hiring someone who isn’t an attorney to manage attornies. It could work, but they better learn the language, sooner rather than later.

    • #3299257

      While I agree about Business acumen…

      by chrystoph ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      I find that those of you who argue that a CTO (the article specifies) does not need technical acumen is a flawed mentality.

      This person, when effective, either has to be “the geek” for the “C” staff or has to bring a geek to meetings where (s)he is on stage.

      I do believe that bridging the gap between the technical and non-technical staff is this person’s job, but it cannot effectively be done without an understanding of, at least, the underlying principles.

      Somewhere in the middle of the extremes being argued….

    • #3299243

      I Have Seen the Enemy and They Are Us…

      by rsanchez ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Although I agree in part that nepotism plays a role but lets face it we technicians are also to blame, let’s fact it, the Y2K scare is long over, outsourcing is quickly becoming corporate SOP however too many “techies” have yet to realize that your technical abilities will only get you in the door but they won’t get you into the Board room. Too many of us lack any business acumen plus we tend to perpetiate the stereotype of having poor people skills. It’s “US” that have to get with the program – its a very different game that is being played and far too often technies are relegated to the status of designated hitter – once they’re done with us it’s back to the bench.

      • #3299205

        It’s not black and white

        by cou-cou ·

        In reply to I Have Seen the Enemy and They Are Us…


        As a non-technical person working in technology-related industry/business for over 20 years, I found it’s a common “emotional” problem for technical professionals feel “upset” for a non-technical professional is their boss.

        As many posts have already correctly pointed out, the underlying question is – what is the job all about? Or simply stated, is the guy going to set up and operate a machine gun, or is he/she going to formulate the entire war plan and ensure the success?

        With that said, a CIO still has to try acquire as much as technical-related knowledge with all possible means, especially for those emerging new technologies which might change how a business would operate and/or it’s competitiveness.

        The background of the person is not important, actually, as long as he/she has the cross-functional knowledge and skills as a high-level managers.

        It’s equally upset to talk to a CIO whose focus is how to set up and configure a server or router or what programming languages they choose over others and so on during an executive meeting to those who do know what is wireless network.

      • #3313784

        But the real question is

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to I Have Seen the Enemy and They Are Us…

        Just how many “techies” want management positions?

        When they take the step from hands on to management they very rarely get what they want and have a very fine balancing act to pull off. On the one hand they know what is needed to do a job and on the other hand they know just how much money will be available to pay for the desired results.

        Many years ago when I worked for a Boss a Salesman was promoted over me and felt threatened by myself, he seemed to think that I somehow desired his job and thought that I should have been given it.

        When he approached me about an incident that happened he then brought this up {I think he was feeling insecure in his new position and he was making some massive mistakes} My reply was that the company lacked sufficient funds to make me even consider his job and that I would rather attend a Dentist and have all my teeth filled and then removed without anesthetic rather than be in his position.

        The simple fact is that most of us just do not want to be removed from the position of getting our hands dirty with real work and be relegated to pushing paper around all day.

        I have to disagree with the assumption that the “Techies” are not people, people as it is us who generally deals with the customer and in many cases are responsible for selling new equipment. There have been many cases where I have sold new equipment to do a job rather then rely on a “Sales Person” to do the correct thing rather than just flog off what is the flavor of the month this week.


      • #3294301

        Quite right too

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to I Have Seen the Enemy and They Are Us…

        Well we are designated hitters in most respects. IT services business not the other way round. Why would you permanently employ a network architect specialist and then get in managing director during AGMs. A lovely idea I must admit but probably not workable. A company is always doing business, but at least perception wise it’s not always doing IT.

        The only reasons outsourcing/contracting is n’t a given everywhere is that companies generally like to have someone in their control involved and said person needs to be instantly available to crack the password the CFO put on the company accounts spreadsheet just before he went on holiday.

    • #3299192

      not all CTO’s are tech hands on…

      by secure_lockdown9 ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      it would be nice if every CTO had a sys. admin background and was able to setup networks – but to be honest – the CTO’s job is to make decisions not to do the grunt work.

      it’s also perfectly fine for the CTO to ask more hands on tech staff for specific tech recommendaons — but it’s their job to use that info and make a decision that benefits the company in IT related area.

      • #3317017

        By example

        by jdmercha ·

        In reply to not all CTO’s are tech hands on…

        So we have CAT3 wiring in our building. IT wants to upgrade to CAT5. CTO needs to cut his budget. “We’ve had CAT3 for years. We can’t afford to change now.”

        If you don’t understand the difference, how can you make a decision?

        • #3294400

          Well the ideal solution

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to By example

          Is that while the Manager of the IT department has very little technical knowledge they rely on the experience of the people who work for them to advise them.

          It is only when there is no two way communication between these people that problems occur. In this instance you very well may require Cat5E cabling to replace the CAT3 but have you asked does the company actually have the funds available to pay for this.

          A managers job is to balance what you need with what you can actually afford. If it was to come down to the difference between a New server or some cabling I’d chose the server and put up with the slow performance of the network as there will be far more than just a bit of wire and a few plugs involved what about all the hubs/switches this when added in makes the small cost of the cabling a lot more expensive.


        • #3294113


          by jdmercha ·

          In reply to Well the ideal solution

          “A managers job is to balance what you need with what you can actually afford.”

          So now the non-tech manager is faced with the server group demandng a new server for $5,000, while the network group is demanding new wiring for $10,000. And the budget only has $7,000 to woirk with.

          He’ll look a lot better to the CEO if he saves $2,000 rahter than asking for $3,000 in additional funds. But what he doesn’t see is that the benefits of the new server can’t be realized if the network doesn’t support it. So he will choose to waste $5,000.

          This is a simplified example of course, but I see things like this all the time.

        • #3291717

          Actually in this case

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Exactly

          The full benefits of the new server an not be realized and the cables still need replacing but as they tend to be unseen they go unnoticed {Sad but quite often true.}

          While this is hard to believe I still work for some places with Token Ring networks it makes it very hard when you want to add a new workstation but these places still get their work done and are only sharing files rather than actually using a remote storage unit for all the required files.


    • #3299078

      Its not a trend

      by piratetoolz ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      The fact that businesses place business people in IT director or officer level positions isn’t a trend, thats the way it has always been. I was once told by a former employer that “IT supports Operations, Operations does NOT support IT.”

      Sure, there are folks out there that have a good grasp on both sides of the house…but the truth is that most gearheads, geeks, and techies are not businessmen. We are gearheads, geeks, and techies.

      What needs to happen is those business people that are promoted into high level IT management positions be indoctrinated into the importance of IT…does it matter if they memorize all of the abbreviations or know exactly what Citrix is? No. They are there to manage IT (FinOps, vendors, etc) not make the technology work.

      That’s OUR job.

      • #3313748

        Precisely wrong

        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to Its not a trend

        “…does it matter if they memorize all of the abbreviations or know exactly what Citrix is? No. They are there to manage IT (FinOps, vendors, etc) not make the technology work.

        That’s OUR job.”

        They need to know what Citrix IS. They don’t need to know how to make it work.

        • #3294083

          The Issue?

          by piratetoolz ·

          In reply to Precisely wrong

          We all wish that our manager’s could be more like us. That, however, is just that…a wish. All an IT manager (in the context of my previous post) needs to know about Citrix is whether or not it can meet the needs of the business unit. To find out if it meets those needs or not, a good manager will ask the right people.

          Managers are there to run the business. They need to calculate ROI and margins, not subnets. The manager needs to read Six Sigma, not manuals. If we do OUR job, they can do theirs.

          What this post is asking for is already out there, it is called a consultant. I’m not saying that the system works well as it is, I’m simply saying that this is how it works.

        • #3291931

          You confuse me

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to The Issue?

          “They need to know what Citrix IS. They don’t need to know how to make it work.”

          Just what of the above did you disagree with?

        • #3291921


          by piratetoolz ·

          In reply to You confuse me

          I was trying to avoid arguing semantics, sorry. I certainly see and appreciate your point, but the issue isn’t whether they know what it is or isn’t, but that they go to the right places for that information. If managers knew everything about everything, they wouldn’t need us.

          I think a lot of what eveyone is tired of in IT management is vendor and product choices that are made with NO information. We are the people that should be providing that information to management. I’m really into team feedback on systems.

        • #3291909

          OK, let’s see where we agree

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Sorry

          I agree, the manager doesn’t need to be an expert on the technology. I think you agree, that the manager should know that technologies exist.

          My personal view is that a manager should know the general overview of the technology industry. I feel it is important to have at least that much of an understanding of what you’re managing so you can comprehend what the “experts” [the employees] are telling you when they explain which way they feel you should swing at a vendor’s pitch. [Feel free to amend the analogy…]

          I would be surprised to find a manager in my firm who didn’t know the major players in most technologies. If they didn’t, how could they answer questions that their peers have of them? Say, the CEO asks what we have in place for safe work-from-home policies for the finance people. The CTO should be able to state that we have what is called a “Citrix” deployment – this will allow the user to work from home as if they are at the office, with very little additional training [or some other appropriate answer].

          I don’t expect that the CTO would say “Um, huh?” or “That would be cool.”

          A good CTO is trying to make the employees more efficient, and guiding the tech department to solve business issues. If the CTO hasn’t considered the problem of remote acess, what’s he or she doing?

          How does the CTO approve a budget which includes expenditures for things about which s/he has no idea what they do?

          I guess my thoughts are… If the senior manager hasn’t already asked the other employees about these topics, why is that person in meetings with the vendors, anyway? Why hasn’t this person gotten up to speed on technology if that’s what responsibility lies under their control?

          The CFO needs to know finance.
          The CIO/CTO needs to know technologies.
          The CSA needs to know development tools.
          The CSO needs to know security issues.
          etc, etc.

        • #3291897

          I see

          by piratetoolz ·

          In reply to OK, let’s see where we agree

          The problem here is that what we’ve agreed on is what SHOULD be going on. You’re absolutely right, the CIO/CTO (and on down the line) should have an understanding of what a technology does, and what vendors can provide the technology.

          I think where you and I disagreed originally was simply a matter of degree. I suppose then my primary argument should have been “Sure, IT manager’s are often underqualified technically, but just as often there are more technically inclined office holders that are as underqualified concerning business needs.”

          Ah, live and learn.

        • #3291714

          Perfectly Correct in an Ideal World

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to OK, let’s see where we agree

          But unfortunately we do not live in that. There are some good CIO/CTO out there who are willing to use their staff for knowledge and others who feel threatened by the Superior knowledge of their staff so the staff are not included in decision making processes.

          If you think this scenario is bad you should try working for Government departments where the biggest “Screw Up” gets promoted to leave the mess to someone else to clean up and then goes on to “Screw Up” again in their new higher paid position which results in another promotion.

          What do they say “The Sh*t always raises to the top?”


    • #3299013

      It’s Not the Lack of Tech, It’s the Lack of Management

      by keiths3 ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      It is interesting that so many people assume that having high levels of technical skills (IT, Medical, etc.) make them better managers. A CIO over a very large division must wear several hats but the largest hat is the one of Manager. In your situation, the CIO was trying to be both the decision maker/manager and the technical expert. By building teams that work well together and capitalize on each other’s skills, he could have allowed you to present the technology component and he the business side. Having those discussions prior to the vendor meeting does two things: (1) givs you insight into the business model itself – the one that goes beyond simply purchasing IT components, and, (2) he would have the opportunity to learn technology from a resident expert. His lack of management understanding eliminated the possibility of a partnership between you both.
      Yes, corporate America is moving toward IT as a business function. Partly driven by the commoditization of technology, corporate is more concerned with the strategic leveraging of the technology and not the technology itself. . . that is left to the technical experts. I smile at the thought that the CIO has probably had a similar thought about the same engagement, something like “Are companies not requiring their technology people to learn or know anything about strategy, business, and effective negotiations?” I can’t defend his actions but I can give you some insight into how to approach the issue… form that partnership with him and learn all thebusiness stuff you can. In the end, the person that can switch hit will be the winner. Good Luck

    • #3313981

      Reminds me of….

      by araxis ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      A friend who worked for a IT training company who let go of their General Sales Manager who had “Amiga Days” IT experience..Then they hired a guy to replace him who had done nothing but sell cars his whole career..

      This guy even admitted to my friend he knew nothing about computers…


    • #3313854

      Not a Know-it-all

      by dvigji ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      I have been in various management positions over the course of my working life and I have found that in many cases promoting ?gearheads? as you call then is not the best move. While they indeed posses a great deal of knowledge they may not have the management skills required to actually run the operation. I have seen this in both technology as well as other areas such as sales and marketing. A top sales person is promoted to Sales Manager in the hops of guiding the other sales people to achieve high sales quotas. What happens is the Sales Manager flounders, what this person wants is to be in the field selling and so the management duties suffer. I have managed departments in which my own technical knowledge of the equipment was well below that of some of the senior technicians that worked for me. However, what I had that they did not was the knowledge of time and personnel management and was able to schedule the right people at the right time to get the job done. I surround myself with knowledgeable people to provide me with the technical input that I need to make the right decision. Just because you have the technical knowledge and know all the buzzwords does not make you a leader or a good decision maker.

      • #3294292

        Mangement vs Leadership vs Decision Making

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to Not a Know-it-all

        Techs can and do make good leaders, they also make bad ones, because it’s a personality issue. You can learn about leadership, but if you are not comfortable with being out in front, you’ll make a bad one.
        Decision making is not solely the province of managers either. A good anything makes good decisions most of the time and quickly fixes the bad ones. I know we’ve all had managers who didn’t qualify on that front.

        Management is not leadership.

        Part of the problem is in any business organization , technical types have to switch to a management role in order to gain promotion and therefore a higher salary. In many large orgainizations your salary is dependant on the number of bodies you manage. For instance at one the MD’s PA who was in charge of two secretaries was in a higher grade than me even after I re-engineered the control system interface for the entire manufacturing operation. But all I was was the software specialist in a multi disciplinary team who were all on the same grade.

        Let’s face it, techs are people who sort out new keyboards after managers spill coffee on them.

        • #3291908

          The perfect IT organization

          by jdmercha ·

          In reply to Mangement vs Leadership vs Decision Making

          There seems to be a lot invloved in being a CIO, so let’s build the perfect organization. Let’s face it businesses are run by bussnessmen. And as much as I’d like to have a techie CIO, at that level he needs to be a bussnessman first. So here’s my crack at it. I’ve come up with 7 levels. If the copmany is too small to have so many levels than a person at one level must also have the skills of any level that is missing below him.

          CIO – A bussinessman that understands the business, promotes the benifits of IT and the need for IT spending to the senior management staff.

          Executive director – only one person at this levle, actually runs the IT department, must have good business and technical knowledge, make major IT decisions and report needs to CIO, sets priorities for IT.

          Directors – can be many at this level, responsible for operations and budgeting.

          Managers – broad tecnical knowledge and business skills, develops IT plan, and requests resources

          Supervisors – Good technical skills, some business skills, allocates resources, obtained by manager.

          Leads – a technical expert that helps to develop the skills of the team he leads

          Grunts – the people that actually do the work

      • #3261388

        Here here

        by mmurray49 ·

        In reply to Not a Know-it-all

        Nicely put.

    • #3313847

      Familiar refrain…

      by anothercio ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      It’s been said before and bears repeating, until died-in-wool propellerheads learn to look past the “coolness” of technology and address it’s business value, they will continue to be frustrated and underappreciated.

      To suggest that a senior executive engage in a bits-and-bytes dialog with a techhead is the equivalent of asking me to build a diesel engine because I drive one.

      Having served as a CIO for two Fortune 100 companies, I can tell you that many corporations are focused on delivering IT projects on time within budget and achieving the stated benefits.
      That has much more to do with a manager’s ability to lead IT professionals and ensure appropriate resources are available than his/her ability to pass muster is a technical discussion with Dilbert.

      It’s interesting to hear that $500M in annual sales is “high” and that a knowledge of VMware is a measure of someone’s technical depth.

      • #3313819

        A point

        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to Familiar refrain…

        “It’s interesting to hear that $500M in annual sales is “high” and that a knowledge of VMware is a measure of someone’s technical depth.”

        A knownledge of the existance of technologies that can run virtual systems inside of others is a measure of someone’s leadership ability with respect to technology. A familiarity with the names of one or two of the leaders in that industry would be decent. Being able to set it up, tweak it, and run a business’ needs through it is not necessarily a requirement, though.

        • #3313774

          I have to disagree here

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to A point

          While it would be nice if the manager had some technical knowledge from my experience it often causes more problems that it solves.

          A little knowledge is dangerous and this is exactly the position when you have someone who thinks that they know better than you on how to implement something.

          I leave the management to others more qualified and if I can save a few $ by implementing things like VM Ware it so much the better it not only makes me look good but the manager as well.

          I would hate to be in a position where the manager thought s/he knew it all because they had a Commodore Vic 20 at home and all computers are the same so they insisted on running everything in Basic.

          Personally I let the managers manage and the techies do their thing with a close working relationship between the two. It is the path of least resistance.


        • #3313762

          That’s not my entire point

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to I have to disagree here

          I see what you’re saying, but I must point out that the best senior level manager is one who knows what you’re working with/on, but knows you’re better at it than s/he is.

          How can management make a decision on where to guide the company if they don’t know the waters? I’m agreeing with you – a dumbass manager is a terrible thing. But to be effective, they have to know what you’re talking about.

          How can you explain the reasoning to a manager as to why you should go with Notes or Exchange or Sendmail if you have to start with “This is called E-Mail…”

          Another peeve of mine: Higher-ups expecting you to write their reports, conduct their meetings, explain everything to them, but hassle you for not having time to change the backup tapes during normal business hours…

          This is why I’ve been taking a break as of late…

        • #3316932


          by anothercio ·

          In reply to I have to disagree here

          I think you and I are on the same page, Hal. Rather than generalize, I’ll be very candid. My technical knowledge is a mile wide and several inches deep. I wrote my last line of code several decades ago then shifted my focus to business operations. My experience with manufacturing, sales and logistics allows me to effectively communicate with business executives. I need IT professionals around me that are smarter than I am and I expect to compensate them accordingly. I love to ensure that those with good communications skills get opportunities for exposure to executives, but the last thing I need is for someone to get into a dialogue over “how elegant” one database product is versus another when we’re attempting to solve a business issue.

          I’d love to have you, and people like you, in my organization!

        • #3294387

          Actually that is exactly part of the reason

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Agree!

          I set up my own business with all of my previous technical staff who worked for me previously.

          Well that was not the intention but that’s how it turned out all of these guys just approached me for a job and brought a swag of clients with them to boot. I thought I was going to have an easy life now I have an office manager who knows next to nothing about the business but only sends out bills and pays the staff.

          I’m used to my clients complaining that I do not speak English and most just do not understand me I quite often see their eyes glaze over as I speak to them so I try to “Dumb It Down!”

          A few years ago I started out doing a short list of the commonly used jargon to make life easier for the clients so they would understand us backroom guys a bit better, I thought it would be easy but when I was only about half way through the list with a short explanation of what each term actually meant in understandable English I realized that it was 165 pages long. At that point I just gave up and we all try to make ourselves understood to our clients.

          We must be doing something right as I quite often hear “We didn’t know that there where people like you out there Thank God we where told about you!”

          But in all honestly we only supply for small business now days and we do everything from a single workstation to complete network installations and maintains. Every one of us tends to be better people persons now but we are still far from perfect and when let loose with other professionals we are as bad as the rest the difference however is that we do try to make ourselves understood by the customers. Which may not be ideal but we keep getting the work and are constantly recommended to others so we must be doing something right.


    • #3313835

      Just because you can fix a server doesn’t mean

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      That you would make a good manager.

      Managers aren’t just someone who works somewhere long enough that they just float to the top. They are trained to be managers and keep the business profitable.

      If you want to be a suit, get a management degree and knock yourself out.

      If you want to work with computers then get a degree in computers and knock yourself out.

      • #3313777

        Ahhh my friend…you have never worked here…lol

        by tomsal ·

        In reply to Just because you can fix a server doesn’t mean

        In theory what you said is what you’d think would be the case….

        Here though…folks are mere “clerk type” employees one minute, the next minute they are dubbed “manager” — they have no training, no formal college or other higher education at all and sometimes they were only with the company for a year or less.

        Oh yeah and sometimes the employee has poor communication skills (I’m thinking of someone here as I write this but I’ll keep her identity safe).

        Boggles my mind I tell you!

        • #3346114

          Better you than me

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to Ahhh my friend…you have never worked here…lol

          If they promote managers that way, it must be a real joy to work there.

          Nothing better than to have people who are often seen as useless by their peers get promoted over them.

          Makes for a real respectful work environment.

          (does the sarcasim show?)

          Wish you luck, I couldn’t put up with that, and it is amazing how businesses that operate like that stay afloat.

      • #3313756

        Reality check

        by sumjay ·

        In reply to Just because you can fix a server doesn’t mean

        Yes, every organization has it’s own agenda laid out from the top. If they practice nepotism, they probably can get away with it. I have seen where the head honcho or owner wants to keep the management control within the “family”. Sure enough it may very well be a relative or friend with a business background.

        If there is no “family”, then it is the shareholders interests that matter the most.

        It is here then a variable comes into the equation. “Who do you trust?”

        The “Trust Circle” consists of a network of friends, business contacts and club members. It is from this group that the CIO may be chosen.

        The CIO needs to be a person who can share the business vision of the CEO. So knowing what VMWare or Citrix does, is very trivial in the scope of the big picture. IT knowledge can be gained over time by osmosis being surrounded by brilliant and non-condescending IT personnel, but if you can belong to the inner circle that’s what really counts. So work hard to get in the inner circle, you will be well rewarded.

        How? As a Techie get some knowledge about communication, interpersonal skills, golfing (or the CEO’s favourite game) and some finance courses.

        • #3313750

          What a job is

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Reality check

          To me, my job is to help the company make money. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

          My role in helping the firm make money happens to be specialized in IT.

          As CxO, one should should already know much about business and management. If one was then transferred to CIO or CTO, one should work extra hard at learning IT-related information. Learning by osmosis is not doing your job.

          Personally, I prefer managers to come up the ranks. I don’t feel that every tech can be a manager. Nor do I beleive every manager can effectively manage technology. So those who show a proficiency and a DESIRE to be both, whatever the field, should be the ones to manage those units.

          Honestly, and chief in technology who doesn’t know the leading players in hardware and software isn’t working too hard…

        • #3294106

          Myth Killer

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Reality check

          Why do people insist in perpetuating the myth that techies can’t communicate with the non-technical, thats our job. We translate their requirements into a technical solution, can’t do that if we don’t understand what they want can we. Neither are you going to get very far if you don’t treat the people you are working for with respect. Respect being the essence of interpersonal skills. I’ll agree with golf and the finance courses though, lending the CEO your wife would probably help as well.

          I’ll admit in the dim amd distant past you might have been able to get away with grunting out jargon at great speed and ignoring the responses, but nowadays you wouldn’t get through your trial period as gopher with that sort of problem.

        • #3346106

          Isn’t what I said (or was it?)

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to Myth Killer

          With the way things are so specialized, you can’t know everything about everything.

          Most Sys admins can’t configure a Cisco router and most Net admins can’t configure Active Directory or Novell. (and I am not talking about turn on RIP and let the router go either)

          There are a lot of skills both in proper communications and in business that are needed to make a GOOD exec. They need to know the basics about IT but don’t have to know how to do the job BECAUSE THEY DON’T DO THAT JOB, YOU DO!

          Some Techs go into management because that is what they wanted to do all along and have prepaired themselves for it.

          Some what to become a manager because the want the big paycheck for nothing that they see the managers get. I get that same thing from office personel when they see me reading a book on traffic shaping or something. “wish I would get paid to just sit around and read”.

          I enjoy working with technology too much to take a desk job telling other people to go play with the toys. Sitting in meetings 4 to 10 times a week is for the birds (unless held on the before mentioned golf corrse, of course)

        • #3345636

          Preferably at the

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Isn’t what I said (or was it?)

          19 th hole


    • #3317156

      How about a lawyer for IT manager?

      by awfernald ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Used to work for one. Another time, I had a guy from marketing who moved over.

      For some reason, I never did get along with them.

      The number one reason to have an IT HEAD that is knowledgeable about IT is because when you have two or three possible solutions to a specific business concern, and three different “factions” trying to convince you that their plan is better, someone who knows IT will be able to ask the right questions to ensure that the system that will best fit into the overall company infrastructure (long-term) is chosen.

      I have seen people (no name calling, but lawyer jokes accepted) sign off on doing a simple project and taking a “two-day” solution vs. a “two-week” solution.

      The scenario was… boss wanted a GLOBAL implementation of a document management and sharing system (this was back in about 1994 before intranets were common).

      Guy 1: “I can do this in two days” (using NFS mounted drives).

      Guy 2 (me): “well, we have these considerations that we have to work around, but…. hmmm, give me an hour….”

      Guy 2 (an hour later): “ok, on consideration, here are the problems that we have to overcome, it’ll take us two weeks to be production ready, (using a brand new web-server technology OMG)”.

      Guy 1: I can do it in two days, no problem.

      Boss: Ok, Guy 1, make it happen.

      six-months later

      Boss: Hey, guy 2, we’re having problems with this system, you’re good with that, can you help work this out?

      Guy 1: Hmmm, that sounds like the problems I warned you of when you first asked about this project.

      Boss: Oh, you did?

      Guy 1: yeah, here’s a copy of that memo I gave you.

      Boss: Oh, yeah, guess you did, anyways, go help them fix the system, everything is out of control there.

      Guy 1: You realize it’s now going to take us another six months to build the solution, and then to migrate all this mess into it?

      Boss: ouch, that long?

      Guy 1: Aye

      Now if the boss in this scenario had known IT rather than focusing on the “I can get it in two-days”, then we would have saved literally 8-10 manmonths of FTE at the expense of 2-3 manweeks of work.

      Is knowing your subject important? I think it is.

      • #3317079

        Not so much Knowing The Subject

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to How about a lawyer for IT manager?

        But not being a penny pinching fool who thinks that the so called easiest and cheapest solution is the best.

        Are you sure he was a Lawyer and not an Accountant?

        What you have quite well disclosed above is the mentality that so often happens in the corporate world today “Cheaper is Better on Paper” and we do not care if it doesn’t work initially well fix the problems in a redesign in the field.

        Sought of reminds me of the M16 and the Bradley troop carrier which turned into a tank that was dangerous for the users but eventually both items had the bugs mostly worked out and are now considered acceptable if not good units.


      • #3316966

        Um, Guy 2, right?

        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to How about a lawyer for IT manager?

        I think you wrote Guy 1 at the bottom when you meant Guy 2.

      • #3294322

        good story

        by secure_lockdown9 ·

        In reply to How about a lawyer for IT manager?

        sounds very familiar. this stuff still happens today – actually all the time.

        you usually wind up having to fix the problems and move on. the finger pointing never gets you too far in life.


    • #3294105

      A real example

      by jdmercha ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      I don’t know what type of CIO’s are involveed with these companies, but here is a real example of a problem that I see the non-tech manager causing.

      I had a bad keyboard on a Dell system that was under warranty. I called Dell tech support to get a new one. My first staement to the Dell tech was that I had a bad key board. The tech said fine, took my information and sent a replacement keyboard out to me. My esitmate of what this cost Dell: $20 (including shipping and handling)for the keyboard. $10 for the 1/2 hour of the techs time. For a total of $30

      I had the same problem with a Gateway machine. The Gateway tech would not take my word for it and requested that I run some simple tests. The tests involved a couple of reboots. After an hour and a half the tech agreed that the keyboard was bad and sent out a new one. My esitmate of what this cost Gateway: $20 (including shipping and handling)for the keyboard. $30 for the 1-1/2 hour of the techs time. For a total of $50.

      Now to a bean-counter the labor is part of the overhead that will get paid anyway. So Both Dell and Gateway will only see the $20 keyboard as an extra charge. But what the folks at Gateway miss is the value of the techs time. Even if I was wrong, and my keyboard was fine it is still less expensive over all for them to just send a new keyboard. And not only does Dell save money on the techs time, they also free up that tech to deal with another customer.

      No wonder Gatewaty is in such financial trouble.

      • #3291925

        One from the old days

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to A real example

        Back in the days of line printing on music rule, a manager implemented the following cost saving scheme.
        Many of the listings were 80 column and we went through about a box a day.
        So he used to cut the unprinted four or so inches off the side, glue down one narrow end. Then split the fanfolds at the other and hand them out as note paper.
        The guillotine and glue didn’t cost that much but it took him hours to do it. And we ended up with so many note pads he had to put most of them in the recycle bin anyway because they were deemed a fire hazard.

        • #3291713

          It wasn’t in a Government Department

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to One from the old days

          Was it Tony?

          That sounds like something that they would do.


    • #3243945

      IT Managers – mangers or techo’s

      by steffan.weiss ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      While I am also amazed at what you discovered, I think one has to look at the broader view and not let titles get in the way – essentially IT requires a “captain” – someone to steer the boat. It also needs engineers – the bods that look afte the internals and know what to fix when something goes wrong.
      The captain does not *need* to understand what a piston or a coupling is, as long as he has confidence and trust in his engineers.
      So a CIO (or whatever the tile is) needs to be able to manage the IT strategy, ensure funding, play the high-level politics, and ensure alignment of IT with business requirements. The engineers (even if they have lofty titles, or not) are the specialists and have to understand the advantages and benefits of technologies they use. And they may also have to be the ones who translate these into “business-speak” for the captains to understand and promote to the business.

      • #3262766

        The problem with this is..

        by jdmercha ·

        In reply to IT Managers – mangers or techo’s

        The diesel engineer tells the captain that the engine needs a valve job.

        The radar engineer tells tha captain they need a new radar dish.

        The galley engineer tells the captain they need a new stove.

        The captain doesn’t have the budget for all three. How can he set the priorities if he can’t understand how they operate?

    • #3261483

      VMware – What’s that?

      by mmurray49 ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Come on! I’m going to assume you had no other
      examples to use so I’ll just respond to THAT example:
      Do you really think that a person is unqualified to lead a
      company’s technology efforts because they haven’t
      heard of a particular acronym? Remove your blinders,
      give the guy a hint behind the technology and I’m sure
      he could give a decent rendition of what the underlying
      mechanics are. I recently interviewed with a “list
      memorizer” who thought I might not be qualified for a
      Sys Admin job because I couldn’t recall any of the
      names of the utilities on the Win NT 4.0 Resource CD…
      Had he asked me when/why I might have to utilize it he
      probably would have been satisfied. His loss as far as
      I’m concerned…

      • #3261406

        I’ve had that one as well

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to VMware – What’s that?

        Name five properties unique to component X. As soon as you get a question like that you know even if successful you are being employed by people who know f’all about what you do.

    • #3261465

      VMware – What’s that?

      by mmurray49 ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      Come on! I’m going to assume you had no other
      examples to use so I’ll just respond to THAT example:
      Do you really think that a person is unqualified to lead a
      company’s technology efforts because they haven’t
      heard of a particular acronym? Remove your blinders,
      give the guy a hint behind the technology and I’m sure
      he could give a decent rendition of what the underlying
      mechanics are. I recently interviewed with a “list
      memorizer” who thought I might not be qualified for a
      Sys Admin job because I couldn’t recall any of the
      names of the utilities on the Win NT 4.0 Resource CD…
      Had he asked me when/why I might have to utilize it he
      probably would have been satisfied. His loss as far as
      I’m concerned…

      • #3260518

        IT Manager – Impossible to Know every answer

        by jhaley ·

        In reply to VMware – What’s that?

        I am currently working as the Manager Network and IT Communications with a staff of 10 associates under me. Above me is the VP of IT and the CTO above him. In my position I focus so much energy on project completion, team building and management activities, that I find my technical skills losing their keen edge. It bothers me, but I’ve been told by my “bosses” to stay out of the trenches. I have to make sure our IT solutions align with business objectives and goals. If they don’t I answer for them. I rely heavily for input, from those under me. We have a good team and we accomplish a great deal, but the burden of IT management wears on me.

        There are times I think I would rather be in the trenches!

    • #3024976


      by pfunix ·

      In reply to Unqualified IT managers

      what if you’re CTO, doesn’t plan? he claims that he does but really doesn’t, would give you ridiculous dates for completion even though he has zero idea of what is required to finish up the task.

      corporate view of the company is tough i agree with that, but CTO or NOT.. needs to have basic understanding of how things work on tech level.

      it’s like when you hire a lawyer.. you need to make sure that it is indeed a lawyer. since he will represent you in front of the jury (management) if he sucks ass then you’ll get screwed.

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