Back in November 2000, Bryan Wilhite (me) published “An IT Fundamentalist Speaks.” This was a formal summary of my ground-level view of the IT workaday world—even though the piece contains profanity. In spite of its brief fame on the now defunct netslaves.com (this site has been replaced by a book), the new world of the Blog has far more impact than those posts of the past. I wanted to follow up this work with a more sedate evaluation of IT management—to discuss the types of managers out there. The assertion is that one type of manager is a non-technical visionary that is an articulate advocate of “the user”—and the user experience. This kind of manager is secure in their non-technical abilities, knowing the value of the big picture. Another type of manager is an active technician and the team members under management are mere extra sets of hands. This means that the manager can do everything you, the programmer, can do—and more. Both of these types of managers are useful. The criticism is that other types of managers are not useful. Here are some sketches of managers that are not useful:
- A manager that is not technical but they think they are because they used punch cards in the 1970s. They are so preoccupied with these thoughts of Jurassic technical excellence that they are unable to see what our customers, the users, are doing and needing.
- A manager that is technical but they are vendor non-compliant. They know just enough to get us all in trouble (or, of course, inherit this trouble with the pretense of some kind of arcane professionalism beyond our comprehension) by mixing and matching components outside of known vendor interoperability scenarios. We are left with fighting on two (or more) fronts: pitted against the problem of satisfying our customers (a valid problem) and pitted against vendor non-compliance (a problem that sucks).
Actually, what I just wrote I the previous paragraphs is just about all I wanted to say. So let’s call this The Sequel…
There is so much more out there in the Blog world: Joel on Software, the article “Set Your Priorities,” Dare Obasanjo, his “On Moving on from Microsoft in 5 Years” and “Perfect Time to Start an IT Consulting Firm?” by DonXML come to mind.