ITs Big Secret



  • Every IT professional has a big secret, and it is the same one. We all have it, we never discuss it, we hide it even from each other, most of us don't realize that everyone else has the same one because we never talk about but.... none of us know what we are doing!

    Okay, it's not exactly that. But we all feel that way. We all believe that everyone else knows all these things that we don't and that we are just stumbling through our days getting lucky rather than really knowing what we are doing. This is true from your entry level help desk guy on his first day of work to your six and seven figure, lifelong professionals.

    But why? Given the crazy dedication, training, experience, investment in time and training and more than we see in IT, probably one of the best educated career fields out there (at least in its upper ranks) how can no one really, truly feel competent? What is causing this?

    Well, we need to start by understanding something about IT: It's complex. Really, really complex. Not complex like people normally understand, it's impossibly complex. There is no way for even large, highly trained IT departments to adequately understand all of the necessary components and variables.

    The problem is that because IT has no central discipline oversight and IT professionals are so often isolated from each other and shared experiences are so rare and each environment is so unique that we often get the feeling that "everyone else" knows what they are doing and that we ourselves are just getting lucky or feeling our way in the dark. But the difference here is only confidence (or the modifications of stories around the campfire) and not experience.

    Of course, some IT professionals have more training, more experience or more skill than others or might be more focused or just lucky that they've worked with exactly the thing that is needed at the time - there is no doubt that all people are not equal in this utility. But all of the, from the ones perceived to be the best to those on the opposite side of the spectrum all feel the same way deep down. There is no way to prove, even to ourselves, that we know what we are doing. And so we all live with the hope that we struggle through and no one finds out that we never were truly sure of ourselves.

    But we need to lift this veil. We need to be able to talk about this and admit to each other that we are all struggling, all unsure, all inadequate in at least some areas and that this is just how IT is. Doctors are the same way, no doctor knows everything - the body is just way too complex. Medical doctors are so completely in the dark that even IT professionals should live in abject fear of our random guesses in the medical field. Both deal with uncontrollable, insanely complex systems that cannot be fully known or understood by any individual and, to that degree, not even any aggregation of knowledge and experience is enough to know either fully. And yet most doctors, we believe, do not go home at night terrified of being inadequate. Heavy regulations, unified training, comparative rankings and certifications make it relatively easy for doctors to know how they compare to their peers and to know that they are in a rank of "adequacy", if nothing else.

    IT has nothing like this. One can legitimately make it to the top tiers in IT through luck and bluffing without ever actually knowing how things work or making good decisions. Since outsides rarely know what a good IT outcome looks like and since companies do not share IT data with each other, it is relatively trivial for IT to rise and fall in the ranks without their success being tied to quality of work. This is such a dramatic effect that it can actually become inversely related - meaning doing a good job can easily hurt your career!

    Because expectations from management are so often that IT should "know everything" we sometimes develop a sense of inadequacy assuming that someone, somewhere was able to meet such an unreasonable expectation that no other field has. But this is not something that we should feel. It's illogical and impossible. There isn't a magical IT professional that you have never met that actually knows everything that there is to know; that person does not exist.

    We can all rest assured, IT really is hard, no one really knows it all. At best some people manage to focus on really small technologies subsections and become well versed in that one thing and can stay relatively on top of changes. Even there the challenges are huge. Anyone even thinking of having an generality at all must inevitably make giant trade offs in what they know and will vary from other professionals to such a staggering degree that nearly everyone has things that they consider "common knowledge" that most people have never heard of.



  • @scottalanmiller said in ITs Big Secret:

    none of us know what we are doing!

    ROFLOL - thanks, needed that!
    and you're right.



  • @scottalanmiller said in ITs Big Secret:

    IT has nothing like this. One can legitimately make it to the top tiers in IT throw luck and bluffing without ever actually knowing how things work or making good decisions.

    Should this be through?



  • @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    @scottalanmiller said in ITs Big Secret:

    IT has nothing like this. One can legitimately make it to the top tiers in IT throw luck and bluffing without ever actually knowing how things work or making good decisions.

    Should this be through?

    Fixed



  • @scottalanmiller said in ITs Big Secret:

    there is no doubt that all people are not equal in this utility. But all of the, from

    Utility?

    and

    "But all of the" should be "But all of them"



  • VERY true!! Especially when something goes wrong where we are unable to fix, or fix as fast as the user wants us to. They complain to their boss so they don't get in trouble for "not working" and blame IT for their incompetency. It's a battle we all have fought. A good manager can nip most of it in the bud, a poor manager makes the issue even worse by relaying it to the affected worker.

    In our hearts we all want to help. We like working on something that we love. Once in a while, it just doesn't work out. I always hated when it doesn't.



  • @Son-of-Jor-El said in ITs Big Secret:

    VERY true!! Especially when something goes wrong where we are unable to fix, or fix as fast as the user wants us to. They complain to their boss so they don't get in trouble for "not working" and blame IT for their incompetency. It's a battle we all have fought. A good manager can nip most of it in the bud, a poor manager makes the issue even worse by relaying it to the affected worker.

    In our hearts we all want to help. We like working on something that we love. Once in a while, it just doesn't work out. I always hated when it doesn't.

    If the machine is going to be down form more than 5 mins, it's not unreasonable that IT should inform that user's manager of the issue and allow the manager to decide what to do with the employee while you fix the machine.



  • @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    If the machine is going to be down form more than 5 mins, it's not unreasonable that IT should inform that user's manager of the issue and allow the manager to decide what to do with the employee while you fix the machine.

    It's unreasonable unless there is a workflow for that. Going over someone's head to report them to their manager is a weird workflow that, if official is fine, but I'd never recommend IT do that unless told to do so or asked directly. Just not how things work.



  • @scottalanmiller said in ITs Big Secret:

    @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    If the machine is going to be down form more than 5 mins, it's not unreasonable that IT should inform that user's manager of the issue and allow the manager to decide what to do with the employee while you fix the machine.

    It's unreasonable unless there is a workflow for that. Going over someone's head to report them to their manager is a weird workflow that, if official is fine, but I'd never recommend IT do that unless told to do so or asked directly. Just not how things work.

    What do you think the workflow should be?



  • @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    @scottalanmiller said in ITs Big Secret:

    @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    If the machine is going to be down form more than 5 mins, it's not unreasonable that IT should inform that user's manager of the issue and allow the manager to decide what to do with the employee while you fix the machine.

    It's unreasonable unless there is a workflow for that. Going over someone's head to report them to their manager is a weird workflow that, if official is fine, but I'd never recommend IT do that unless told to do so or asked directly. Just not how things work.

    What do you think the workflow should be?

    If there is a ticket, update it. If the person is standing there waiting, update them. Do whatever the policy is. But going to someone's manager is an "escalation" and not appropriate, even if the IT person is the senior person involved.

    Imagine if you were having your car fixed and the shop called your parents or your boss to tell them how long it might take rather than telling you. Seems weird, right?



  • Also, it's a big assumption that we have to "turn in" the person for "not being able to work." We don't know their schedule, what they need to be working on, if they have a good opportunity to keep working in some other way. They know that stuff and can report up if and when needed. That their computer is down is just one little part of their day.

    • Managers shouldn't need such minute details in most cases, this is just wasting management time to be interrupted and thinking about computer repairs.
    • In most cases, other computers would be available to use anyway.
    • Only the worker generally knows their schedule, workload and ability to work without a computer. Maybe they have paperwork to do, will be in a meeting, have to work from someone else's desk, etc.
    • The standard reporting is for someone to report their inability to work to their own manager, not have random other departments escalating their status for them. It's like tattling, but when the worker has not even done something wrong. Does not make for a healthy work relationship unless the worker asks IT to report it on their behalf.
    • Wouldn't good documentation make this visible regardless of reporting?


  • @scottalanmiller said in ITs Big Secret:

    @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    @scottalanmiller said in ITs Big Secret:

    @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    If the machine is going to be down form more than 5 mins, it's not unreasonable that IT should inform that user's manager of the issue and allow the manager to decide what to do with the employee while you fix the machine.

    It's unreasonable unless there is a workflow for that. Going over someone's head to report them to their manager is a weird workflow that, if official is fine, but I'd never recommend IT do that unless told to do so or asked directly. Just not how things work.

    What do you think the workflow should be?

    If there is a ticket, update it. If the person is standing there waiting, update them. Do whatever the policy is. But going to someone's manager is an "escalation" and not appropriate, even if the IT person is the senior person involved.

    Imagine if you were having your car fixed and the shop called your parents or your boss to tell them how long it might take rather than telling you. Seems weird, right?

    Of course your example is weird, because I don't report to those people, unless the car isn't mine, it's theirs, in which case, yeah I don't have a problem with that - this person who showed up with a vehicle that isn't theirs wants work done on it.

    The whole reason for my post was the notion that the employee would go running to their boss because IT is making them unproductive, at least in perception, if not in reality.



  • @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    Of course your example is weird, because I don't report to those people, unless the car isn't mine, it's theirs, in which case, yeah I don't have a problem with that - this person who showed up with a vehicle that isn't theirs wants work done on it.

    You don't report to the employee's manager, either. So that was my point. It's not your command chain, not your place to inject yourself.



  • @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    The whole reason for my post was the notion that the employee would go running to their boss because IT is making them unproductive, at least in perception, if not in reality.

    That's for them to do, not IT. IT would verify it if needed, but not by default be the tattle tales just for the sake of reporting on employees.



  • @scottalanmiller said in ITs Big Secret:

    @Dashrender said in ITs Big Secret:

    The whole reason for my post was the notion that the employee would go running to their boss because IT is making them unproductive, at least in perception, if not in reality.

    That's for them to do, not IT. IT would verify it if needed, but not by default be the tattle tales just for the sake of reporting on employees.

    which was exactly the post I was responding to above.


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