Archive for the ‘Management and Politics’ Category

Games and Gamers meets Business and Learning… how the new generation will 0wn you

Friday, March 25th, 2005

Two Tech Nation interviews that I really enjoyed this evening, and found myself totally identifying with.

John Beck – When Gamers Enter the Workforce

http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail436.html

Dr. Moira Gunn speaks with John Beck, a Senior Research Fellow at USC’s Annenberg Center of the Digital Future. He warns that the “Gamer Generation” is about to enter the workforce — and that means change.

John Beck is the author of “Got Game — How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever.”

Dr. Henry Jenkins – Video Games and Education

http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail435.html

Dr. Moira Gunn interviews Dr. Henry Jenkins and learns how he thinks video games will revolutionize education. Dr. Jenkins is the director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the co-editor of Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition (Media in Transition).

I actually read up on Henry Jenkins a while ago, and found him and his work profoundly interesting. I think it was about Massively Multiplayer games, and how people deal with having an online or virtual persona, and the psychology behind it.

Symantec Internet Security Threat Report Volume VII

Monday, March 21st, 2005

Its not been posted just yet, but various sites are reporting the release of Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report Volume VII.

Here is a link to where it probably will be posted:
http://enterprisesecurity.symantec.com/content.cfm?articleid=1539

With this report, keep 2 things in mind:
1. Symantec has a vested interest in selling and marketing their own Antivirus/spam/spyware products.
2. Symantec is nontheless in a good position to compile statistical information on threats detected.

Reports like these are, in my experience, treaded in one of two ways by IT managers. Or they are dismissed out of hand, for reason no.1 … or they are a more trustworthy source for knowledge on these matter than myself, partly for reason two, but more cause its an ‘official report’ .. and managers often dig that kinda stuff..       Yes.. im my experience many IT managers are that shallow.

Anyway.. I will have a page thought it later on.

Oh yes.. that IT thing… I have heard of it, its central to our policy actually.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2005

Two articles got my attention tonight, and both related to a similair theme.

First off is this from the Register, on Tony Blair’s apparent lack of IT skills.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/09/blair_technophobe_confession/

Now personally, who cares if the man uses his mouse as a remote control or something, but its this following article from Working Smarter (or is it Thinking Faster??) that actually underpins the danger of managers, or in this above case a politician, not knowthing the first thing about something, that might be central to some of the policies they are trying to enact.

http://workingsmarter.typepad.com/my_weblog/2005/02/does_it_make_yo.html

I myself can certainly relate to this feeling of IT not being taken seriously at all by most people in charge. Until an actual dialogue is established between the IT orginasation and the management, IT will always remain the underdog of companies, the department to blame, the department that only costs you money. But in order to do this you also need strong departmental mangement in your IT enviroment, and as far as I have seen, this is very very rare.

Will managers ever understand us Geeks?

Friday, August 20th, 2004

This book is great!

I have not even read a single page, but I am already convinced of the superiority of this book.. genious.

Microsoft’s FretDFire weblog alerted me to this title, and I can just imagine myself getting this book for an IT-managers birthday or something! lol!

But seriously.. the rift between managers and Geeks, is something I can really relate to, and something that kinda hits home with me.

My experiance with companies, and in paricular how they relate to their IT staff, has overall not been very good.

Though I am increasingly positive over the direction my  IT services company is taking, I am still very dissapointed in how they treat their own people, but I have run into this with client companies awell.
A lot of this has to do with the cultural gap that exists between managers and the average IT proffesional. Its just two very different worlds, and very different people, that dont seem to be able to relate to eachother.

Glen does a tremendous job of detailing the nature of IT personnel, and I certainly recognize myself in this list. They:

  • Are highly intellectual people who have been rewarded since a young age for individual achievements.
  • Value other persons of similar knowledge and can be intolerant of others not so.
  • Are attracted to this business solely by the technology and tend to work on technology for technology’s sake, not necessarily for business’ sake.
  • Can tend to view data centers and networks as their own personal toy boxes and/or creations of their own artwork.
  • Are introverted by nature, choosing machines over humans and facing challenges in effective day-to-day formal and informal communications.
  • View the business world through what I call the Dilbert filter, which from a certain point of view is a sarcastic view of business, its objectives, drivers, and more importantly, the people who make up the business units.

IT stereotype: The geek The business IT supports
Is highly intellectual and intolerant of those who do not share the same knowledge. Does not share the same knowledge and requires tolerance.
Likes technology for technology’s sake—Often views the technology as one’s own artwork and toy box. Do not care. Has business needs that technology is to solve—accompanied by statements like, “Can’t you just fix this thing?”
Is introverted by nature—a poor communicator. Is extroverted by nature—in desperate need of effective communication from IT.
Views the business through the Dilbert filter. Views the business through profits and losses—accompanied by statements like, “If we don’t make any money, you don’t have a toy box.”

Read more at this great Techrepulbic acticle

What really gets me is that companies like the one I work for, try to mold their IT staff into something more marketable. My own personal manager likes seems to really want to push my own development of ‘soft’ -or ‘people’ skills. Now I feel I am not the most communicative person in the world, but I am certainly not the worst, so I am always willing to keep her happy, and go to communications training if she wants me to, but quite honestly, I really couln’t care less. I really have no need to want to communicate with people better..  after all, I can communicate just fine with other geeks, sometimes you dont even need words, just the right T-shirt..  But these soft-skills are of course means to facilitate in communicating with the rest of the world.. managers, users, etc.

I have tried to explain geek culture to her, tried to explain that you cant really change the intrinsic nature of geeks, and tried to make her understand that culture gap, and how she must bare that in mind, always, when dealing with the average IT proffesional..  But she doesnt understand, its simply beyond her world view, and this applies to every other manager in our company.

Promoted, and the chaos of corperate politics.

Saturday, June 19th, 2004

Yesterday I had a long-due twice-annual talk with my personnel manager.
Somewhat to my surprise it was a very open and relaxed talk, and I think I can say with some certainty that my relationship with her is the best I have had when it comes to managers. We talked a bit about past jobs I have done for the company, and the difficulty I felt being motived when stuck on a job that is not an ideal-match for my interests and skills. In particular,  I am referring to being stuck on end-user support type jobs, while my heart is really in systems and network administration. We talked a bit about the trouble I have been having dealing with politics on a job, and how this would improve with time and experience, and I raised the point about account managers on the company not properly understanding the people and the technology culture the where dealing with, and for once I genuinely felt that my concerns where actually being listened to.

Now to place this in some kind of context; I have never felt that way about the company I work for. I have always felt that their first and foremost priority was writing hours, making the money, and keeping the customer happy in the shot-to-ultra-short term.  On the other hand the company had been going through a period, due to rapid growth, and the placement of a new management team, of placing the concerns and well-being of its employees a very distant last. I and many others at the company have come to expect that our wishes are usually ignored, and it sometimes seemed that all the company was interested in doing was screwing people.

Now of late, I have become somewhat more informed of where these problems stem from, and its somewhat down to a top-level management that doesn’t really know how to deal with techies, and dint seem to be in tune with the attitude that many of now have toward the company, in particular the feeling if involvement with company matters and the level of expectancy toward the management keeping its promises. Now they are slowly starting to work out how to best navigate the employee base they have, and after some talks with them personally, I am pretty convinced they at least mean well.

The middle management on the other hand are the actual cause of a lot of the relationship problem. Apart from the usual individuals that are megalomaniacs went it comes to managing people, it seems that overall they still don’t really have their act together. It seems particularly hard for them to communicate the wishes of top level management in a way that doesn’t offend just about everyone. They seem to be conditioned into being extra hard on people, and that has resulted in some pretty hefty disputed about pay, leased cars, etc. And when it comes to administration on their side, they seem to be so overworked that nothing gets taken care of, the pcprive project being a prime example of corporate ineptitude in getting the ‘job done’.

Now within this mess of this company I have been trying to build a name for myself, but at the same time, have tried to avoid being stuck on jobs that I really didn’t find interesting. Since I have been with them I have been a Support-technician on paper, and personally my salary has not been more than a few dozen euros about minimum wage. I have been stuck with that label for 3 years now, and though my skills have certainly surpassed the level of a ‘support-medewerker’, they (the managers), don’t seem to have caught on. How could they? They are not technical after all, they don’t understand what it takes to set up a network and all the services it needs, and then to document it all as well (a lost skill if ever there was one). However, the last few months I have been on jobs that have afforded me the opportunity to ‘show my stuff’, and in the presence of influential people no less. Now these influential people I speak off are the top-brass of the company. They are the kind of employees that score very well with the management, because they have that very high salesmen enthusiasm, and a are very very good at speaking manager-speak.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know how to talk to most managers.. I have learned to use words like ‘Fixed-price’, ‘Total Cost of Ownership’, ‘Economies of scale’, and ‘Synergy’ in everyday conversation likes its a fucking religion. But these guys, they are just experts at this, and sometimes at a cost to their technical skills, I have found.

But like I said, these guys are influential within the company, and what they say matters. The last few jobs I have done have been noticed, and when it was time  for my personal manager to look at my record with the company, and talk to people I have worked with, the impression I have made with some of these guys bore fruits.

So now I have been promoted to Assistant Systems administrator, this despite the fact that I don’t yet have even MCSA certification, which is supposed to be a pre-requisite.

Now personally, I, and some others round me, are of the belief that I am at least of Network-specialist/Consultant standard. But to me being raised officially above the level of a support guy, is an acknowledgment of the fact that I am technically more profishient than when they hired me. Its a sign of respect, and that is very very rare in this company, very rare indeed.

On top of this, she mentioned the fact that I was possibly due for a raise.  Now this had to due with the fact that years ago, i signed a study-agreement to get certified on 2000, and would receive and additional 20-odd euros per certification I would receive. Now I had never actually finished my study, and I never pursued the matter when I recently got my first 2003 certification, as I felt I had lost my right to it because I had not fulfilled my side of the agreement in getting certified within a certain Timeframe,e. So it was rather surprising when she mentioned this. especially if you consider the fact that we as employees are not accustomed to getting any breaks from our management, if anything, we where used to being screwed whenever they could get away with it. Perhaps my salary now, and for now, as in that there is a salary freeze, is an example of how people like me are screwed, my bruto salary is 1340 euros, I have been made to understand that is lower even than most cleaners earns.

But dispite my salary being a pretty dark cloud overall, I left that conversation beeling somewhat better, and, seeing that the pcprive thing is now actually up and running, I am beginning to feel more positive about the company as a whole.