IT is the Opposite of Doctors


  • Service Provider

    I use doctors as the example of why we don't use university education in IT all of the time.... because doctors are the opposite of IT in every way. Literally, the polar opposite.

    With doctors, our goal is not success, but the avoidance of failure. We care primarily that the doctor not kill the patient, this is MORE important than curing a rare disease. We don't care about the overall chance of survival, only that the doctor not be blamed for the death. If a doctor has an 80% chance of saving someone's life, but a 50% chance of killing them trying to do it... the doctor is trained to let you die because it's a huge risk to have the doctor be blamed for your death. Doctors are all about "avoiding a lawsuit" and "not being at fault" rather than "achieving the best results." So we have systems that focus on heavy memorization of repetitive things, pre-defined procedures to be followed, pricing based on procedure rather than effort, promotion based off of politics rather than results and loads of certifications to deflect legal risks. In fact, doctors are essentially in a union that makes there be little to no value in being the best. The real value is just... showing up.

    IT is entirely the opposite. With rare exception, our goal is success and the risk of failure is acceptable. Because IT is in business, not out to do surgery. Smart businesses have always known that you want people who fail from time to time because it means that they are taking real risks. Businesses do not succeed without taking risks and chances. IT has to look at cumulative success, not "risk avoidance at all costs." IT looking at the same scenarios as doctors do very different things. If you take a 50% chance of driving a company into bankruptcy in order to get an 80% chance of wild financial success you take the risk. The entire VC market is based around this. If you acted like a doctor in the IT world, you'd be literally useless (and likewise, IT people would be bad doctors.) So things designed to pressure memorization and reduce law suit risks are literally worthless in IT. We only care that you can do the job better than someone else, not that you can "not get blamed". That's why certs carry little weight, university training is essentially worthless, the government doesn't oversee IT, there are no unions and our success is based on our results.

    And that's why IT people find comparisons to doctors to be insulting. It implies that we are striving for excellence but just catering to politics to avoid getting blamed. That is failed IT right from the beginning. Business doesn't work that way, and IT is a business aspect, not a medical one.



  • @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    IT looking at the same scenarios as doctors do very different things. If you take a 50% chance of driving a company into bankruptcy in order

    Well said :)



  • Yeah I know I'd be a bit offended if someone attempted that relationship.

    My goal is to always do the best possible thing for the business in the long term, almost regardless of the upfront costs or risks.

    I can always backup data and applications to restore with. Can a doctor backup your life to restore it?



  • Best analogy for the way IT works I've ever heard. IT can be a bit like playing poker in the risk / reward department.

    You try something to improve things, and if it goes over well, then IT wins poker chips (thus causing the users/management to like IT and trust them more).

    If your attempt does not go over well, then IT loses poker chips (thus causing the users/management to begin to dislike and distrust IT more).

    After hearing that analogy I could see it very much in play at the various places I worked.



  • @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    we are striving for excellence but just catering to politics to avoid getting blamed

    This is probably a huge portion of IT in all reality, but that portion of IT would not be considered an IT Practioner by your or our standards @scottalanmiller. I think a lot of people are groomed to be that way by upper management. If I weren't invited here I'd be a very different IT employee. That's a pretty profound statement I think.



  • @wirestyle22 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    we are striving for excellence but just catering to politics to avoid getting blamed

    This is probably a huge portion of IT in all reality, but that portion of IT would not be considered an IT Practioner by your or our standards @scottalanmiller. I think a lot of people are groomed to be that way by upper management. If I weren't invited here I'd be a very different IT employee. That's a pretty profound statement I think.

    When I get blamed for something, I wear it like a badge of honor or a battle scar depending on the circumstances. Good or bad, if it's my fault, I own it.



  • @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @wirestyle22 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    we are striving for excellence but just catering to politics to avoid getting blamed

    This is probably a huge portion of IT in all reality, but that portion of IT would not be considered an IT Practioner by your or our standards @scottalanmiller. I think a lot of people are groomed to be that way by upper management. If I weren't invited here I'd be a very different IT employee. That's a pretty profound statement I think.

    When I get blamed for something, I wear it like a badge of honor or a battle scar depending on the circumstances. Good or bad, if it's my fault, I own it.

    You are an IT practitioner. I'm talking about what is normal in the world not what is normal here.



  • @wirestyle22 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @wirestyle22 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    we are striving for excellence but just catering to politics to avoid getting blamed

    This is probably a huge portion of IT in all reality, but that portion of IT would not be considered an IT Practioner by your or our standards @scottalanmiller. I think a lot of people are groomed to be that way by upper management. If I weren't invited here I'd be a very different IT employee. That's a pretty profound statement I think.

    When I get blamed for something, I wear it like a badge of honor or a battle scar depending on the circumstances. Good or bad, if it's my fault, I own it.

    You are an IT practitioner. I'm talking about what is normal in the world not what is normal here.

    Even outside of IT... The world needs more folks to accept the blame for their crap instead of trying to push it off on somebody else.



  • @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @wirestyle22 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @wirestyle22 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    we are striving for excellence but just catering to politics to avoid getting blamed

    This is probably a huge portion of IT in all reality, but that portion of IT would not be considered an IT Practioner by your or our standards @scottalanmiller. I think a lot of people are groomed to be that way by upper management. If I weren't invited here I'd be a very different IT employee. That's a pretty profound statement I think.

    When I get blamed for something, I wear it like a badge of honor or a battle scar depending on the circumstances. Good or bad, if it's my fault, I own it.

    You are an IT practitioner. I'm talking about what is normal in the world not what is normal here.

    Even outside of IT... The world needs more folks to accept the blame for their crap instead of trying to push it off on somebody else.

    I agree but I'm not telling you how the world should be I'm telling you how it is



  • @DustinB3403 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Yeah I know I'd be a bit offended if someone attempted that relationship.

    My goal is to always do the best possible thing for the business in the long term, almost regardless of the upfront costs or risks.

    I can always backup data and applications to restore with. Can a doctor backup your life to restore it?

    Maybe eventually...backup your consciousness....then put it in a cloned body.... honestly it doesn't seem as far fetch as it did 15 years ago.



  • @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    I use doctors as the example of why we don't use university education in IT all of the time.... because doctors are the opposite of IT in every way. Literally, the polar opposite.

    With doctors, our goal is not success, but the avoidance of failure. We care primarily that the doctor not kill the patient, this is MORE important than curing a rare disease. We don't care about the overall chance of survival, only that the doctor not be blamed for the death. If a doctor has an 80% chance of saving someone's life, but a 50% chance of killing them trying to do it... the doctor is trained to let you die because it's a huge risk to have the doctor be blamed for your death. Doctors are all about "avoiding a lawsuit" and "not being at fault" rather than "achieving the best results." So we have systems that focus on heavy memorization of repetitive things, pre-defined procedures to be followed, pricing based on procedure rather than effort, promotion based off of politics rather than results and loads of certifications to deflect legal risks. In fact, doctors are essentially in a union that makes there be little to no value in being the best. The real value is just... showing up.

    I have to say that I value MOST of the stuff you post Scott but sometimes, the shit that comes out is truly entertaining. Your whole speech about Drs is one such piece. Thanks for the good laugh.

    Btw, I think you may want to look for a new Dr if this accurately described yours.


  • Service Provider

    @wirestyle22 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    we are striving for excellence but just catering to politics to avoid getting blamed

    This is probably a huge portion of IT in all reality, but that portion of IT would not be considered an IT Practioner by your or our standards @scottalanmiller. I think a lot of people are groomed to be that way by upper management. If I weren't invited here I'd be a very different IT employee. That's a pretty profound statement I think.

    What's important there is to recognize that there is an issue with upper management. Risk management is a massive factor in business, it's a giant component of what a CEO and their team are to do. This is a big aspect of what makes a "good CEO" versus a bad one. Not only do good CEOs take the right risks, but they understand that others need to take them too and judge people on their risk analysis and decision making, not the random outcomes of the attempts.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @wirestyle22 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    we are striving for excellence but just catering to politics to avoid getting blamed

    This is probably a huge portion of IT in all reality, but that portion of IT would not be considered an IT Practioner by your or our standards @scottalanmiller. I think a lot of people are groomed to be that way by upper management. If I weren't invited here I'd be a very different IT employee. That's a pretty profound statement I think.

    When I get blamed for something, I wear it like a badge of honor or a battle scar depending on the circumstances. Good or bad, if it's my fault, I own it.

    The question is, do you get blamed for rolling the dice, or for what they showed when they rolled?

    Bad Management: You rolled three 1s, you suck.
    Good Management: You rolled dice for no good reason, you suck.

    See the difference? One judges you on randomness, the other on your actions.


  • Service Provider

    @NashBrydges said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Btw, I think you may want to look for a new Dr if this accurately described yours.

    This is how the field works in the US, all of it. I didn't include the bit here but I recently turned down a CIO role with a group of terminal doctors (that's the highest position in their medical field) because of this exact effect to the point that they carried it into their non-medical lives. Even the group of doctors considered the absolute top of their field in the entire country, this effect was 100% going on. It's not a "this is my doctor" problem, it's a "this is how the US defines doctors."

    No doctor can avoid it. The educational process of becoming a doctor, the certification practice, the interning, the hazing, the insurance, the jobs... they all work this way. And they have to.

    There isn't enough money in medicine to really change this, we need too many doctors so having them work this way is necessary. And the problems with failure are real... a doctor that makes a decision that kills someone has to be held accountable for that mistake, we have to trust that our doctors won't be the ones that kill us (although studies show that this still happens way too much.)

    In IT, we deal with large numbers of decisions and the goal is to analyse them as a whole and work towards the best total outcome. Doctors have to work with a small number of decisions and maximize for the best outcome of individual decisions.

    It's not that doctors are worse than IT, it's that the GOALS of each are fundamentally opposed.



  • @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @wirestyle22 said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    we are striving for excellence but just catering to politics to avoid getting blamed

    This is probably a huge portion of IT in all reality, but that portion of IT would not be considered an IT Practioner by your or our standards @scottalanmiller. I think a lot of people are groomed to be that way by upper management. If I weren't invited here I'd be a very different IT employee. That's a pretty profound statement I think.

    When I get blamed for something, I wear it like a badge of honor or a battle scar depending on the circumstances. Good or bad, if it's my fault, I own it.

    The question is, do you get blamed for rolling the dice, or for what they showed when they rolled?

    Bad Management: You rolled three 1s, you suck.
    Good Management: You rolled dice for no good reason, you suck.

    See the difference? One judges you on randomness, the other on your actions.

    Also Good Management: You rolled the dice with good reason, but had a bad outcome. What did you learn from the outcome?


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Also Good Management: You rolled the dice with good reason, but had a bad outcome. What did you learn from the outcome?

    Hopefully... nothing. In a good roll, most of the time, you know what the bad outcomes could be. I've been through some big time disaster post mortems and the "what did you learn" ended up "that we calculated correctly and bad things happen some times - our decisions were spot on."

    When taking risks, we know that there is risk. It's like wearing a seatbelt, just because you have an accident and get hurt doesn't mean that you should question wearing a seatbelt next time just because it failed to fully protect you this time.



  • @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Also Good Management: You rolled the dice with good reason, but had a bad outcome. What did you learn from the outcome?

    Hopefully... nothing. In a good roll, most of the time, you know what the bad outcomes could be. I've been through some big time disaster post mortems and the "what did you learn" ended up "that we calculated correctly and bad things happen some times - our decisions were spot on."

    When taking risks, we know that there is risk. It's like wearing a seatbelt, just because you have an accident and get hurt doesn't mean that you should question wearing a seatbelt next time just because it failed to fully protect you this time.

    Sounds like the motorcycle helmet argument. But I digress.



  • @scotth said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Sounds like the motorcycle helmet argument. But I digress.

    The motorcycle helmet argument is "a helmet won't stop be from getting killed in a crash"

    When if most of the accidents with motorcycles didn't occur at high rates of speed, you'd have a much great chance of survival.

    There is way more risk just riding a motorcycle the driving a car.

    A seat belt is comparable to a helmet in this scenario. The means of transportation is moot.



  • @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Also Good Management: You rolled the dice with good reason, but had a bad outcome. What did you learn from the outcome?

    Hopefully... nothing. In a good roll, most of the time, you know what the bad outcomes could be. I've been through some big time disaster post mortems and the "what did you learn" ended up "that we calculated correctly and bad things happen some times - our decisions were spot on."

    When taking risks, we know that there is risk. It's like wearing a seatbelt, just because you have an accident and get hurt doesn't mean that you should question wearing a seatbelt next time just because it failed to fully protect you this time.

    So much this. Sometimes, despite doing everything correctly, it is still possible to lose.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @dafyre said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Also Good Management: You rolled the dice with good reason, but had a bad outcome. What did you learn from the outcome?

    Hopefully... nothing. In a good roll, most of the time, you know what the bad outcomes could be. I've been through some big time disaster post mortems and the "what did you learn" ended up "that we calculated correctly and bad things happen some times - our decisions were spot on."

    When taking risks, we know that there is risk. It's like wearing a seatbelt, just because you have an accident and get hurt doesn't mean that you should question wearing a seatbelt next time just because it failed to fully protect you this time.

    So much this. Sometimes, despite doing everything correctly, it is still possible to lose.

    Exactly. No amount of RAID, redundancy, backups, etc. bring the risk to absolute zero. But they all cost more and more. Our job is to find the right balance between risk and cost for the situation, not to eliminate the risk, that's nonsensical.



  • Not everyone cares who is blamed. Some only care about the chance of survival, nothing more. Last month, we were told our mom had a 5% chance to survive the night after we were told she had an infection following surgery. It was sepsis.

    If she survived the night, of that 5% percent chance of survival, she had a 5% chance to ever have a functioning life style. To the doctor, a functioning life style would be the ability to sit up in a bed and knowing who we all were.

    Our single mother of six didn't survive, and I don't care if the doctor couldn't save her. All we wanted, and were focused on, was for her to survive.

    So, though you're entitled to your opinion, some of us only care about survival, and do not give a fuck about who is to blame.



  • Also, "trained to let you die"... one could argue that they are humane.

    The hardest question I've been asked is "if she survives, she will likely be a vegetable. She will never breathe or eat on her own. Do you think she would want that quality of life? If the answer is no, you should allow us to let her die." All I could say was, "I'll never say not to save my mom."

    There are too many variables in the analogy to not only make a comparison, but speak to blame vs. survival. I likely won't continue commenting on this, but you're entitled to your opinion.


  • Service Provider

    @BBigford said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Also, "trained to let you die"... one could argue that they are humane.

    The hardest question I've been asked is "if she survives, she will likely be a vegetable. She will never breathe or eat on her own. Do you think she would want that quality of life? If the answer is no, you should allow us to let her die." All I could say was, "I'll never say not to save my mom."

    There are too many variables in the analogy to not only make a comparison, but speak to blame vs. survival. I likely won't continue commenting on this, but you're entitled to your opinion.

    But what are you "saving"?
    In case of something happening, I have had this conversation with both my parents regarding themselves and myself. I have since had the conversation with my wife also.

    Obviously, I cannot make the call in cold blood right now that says if it is 5% no, but 6% yes. But the serious talk was had and if the choice is between simply not dead versus actually living, we all know where we stand.



  • @JaredBusch said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @BBigford said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Also, "trained to let you die"... one could argue that they are humane.

    The hardest question I've been asked is "if she survives, she will likely be a vegetable. She will never breathe or eat on her own. Do you think she would want that quality of life? If the answer is no, you should allow us to let her die." All I could say was, "I'll never say not to save my mom."

    There are too many variables in the analogy to not only make a comparison, but speak to blame vs. survival. I likely won't continue commenting on this, but you're entitled to your opinion.

    But what are you "saving"?

    When you're 28 and on the verge of losing the last of your parents, you're saving the last little bit of a grandparent that your unborn kids haven't met yet.

    But, we chose not to save that last little bit as it's not what she would have wanted. So my unborn kids just won't get to know what it's like to have grandparents.


  • Service Provider

    @BBigford said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Not everyone cares who is blamed. Some only care about the chance of survival, nothing more. Last month, we were told our mom had a 5% chance to survive the night after we were told she had an infection following surgery. It was sepsis.

    If she survived the night, of that 5% percent chance of survival, she had a 5% chance to ever have a functioning life style. To the doctor, a functioning life style would be the ability to sit up in a bed and knowing who we all were.

    Our single mother of six didn't survive, and I don't care if the doctor couldn't save her. All we wanted, and were focused on, was for her to survive.

    So, though you're entitled to your opinion, some of us only care about survival, and do not give a fuck about who is to blame.

    But how does that relate to the situation? Did the doctor override a situation and take a huge risk that could easily have landed them in a malpractice suit in order to get that chance to survive? If not, I'm confused why this is brought up?

    And unless YOU are the doctor, that you don't care who is to blame isn't relevant, it's who the doctors, their bosses and the lawyers want to blame. You as a person receiving care are not part of the equation.


  • Service Provider

    @BBigford said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    Also, "trained to let you die"... one could argue that they are humane.

    The hardest question I've been asked is "if she survives, she will likely be a vegetable. She will never breathe or eat on her own. Do you think she would want that quality of life? If the answer is no, you should allow us to let her die." All I could say was, "I'll never say not to save my mom."

    There are too many variables in the analogy to not only make a comparison, but speak to blame vs. survival. I likely won't continue commenting on this, but you're entitled to your opinion.

    I think you've misunderstood because this doesn't apply. Unless you are stating that the US doesn't have malpractice suits and use them and that doctors aren't trained (and required) to avoid them... I'm not sure what you are saying about the situation.

    I feel like you are thinking that you are the doctor in these examples. I'm unclear how your own decision about risk relates to the comparison.


  • Service Provider

    The point was, in IT we take risks to lose many patients to save the most patients (money.)

    Doctors have to take the best chance to save an individual patient while not being at fault for killing them.

    Your statements are toned as if they disagree, but the things you state as examples either support my example or are tangential and I can't find anything that correlates them to the discussion.



  • @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    The point was, in IT we take risks to lose many patients to save the most patients (money.)

    Doctors have to take the best chance to save an individual patient while not being at fault for killing them.

    Your statements are toned as if they disagree, but the things you state as examples either support my example or are tangential and I can't find anything that correlates them to the discussion.

    If they appear as supporting statements, then take them that way. To me they don't seem like supporting statements, but to each their own.


  • Service Provider

    @BBigford said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    The point was, in IT we take risks to lose many patients to save the most patients (money.)

    Doctors have to take the best chance to save an individual patient while not being at fault for killing them.

    Your statements are toned as if they disagree, but the things you state as examples either support my example or are tangential and I can't find anything that correlates them to the discussion.

    If they appear as supporting statements, then take them that way. To me they don't seem like supporting statements, but to each their own.

    Because you are not replying in context. You are injecting a personal experience that is not relevant to the discussion.

    You experience and response is a perfectly valid discussion, as I feel I replied to it appropriately.

    But it is not relevant to the point of Scott's thread.


  • Service Provider

    @BBigford said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    @scottalanmiller said in IT is the Opposite of Doctors:

    The point was, in IT we take risks to lose many patients to save the most patients (money.)

    Doctors have to take the best chance to save an individual patient while not being at fault for killing them.

    Your statements are toned as if they disagree, but the things you state as examples either support my example or are tangential and I can't find anything that correlates them to the discussion.

    If they appear as supporting statements, then take them that way. To me they don't seem like supporting statements, but to each their own.

    I'm not even clear what they were referring to. Was it something that I had said? If so, what?


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