Wednesday, May 14, 2008

IT Management Introduction

This blog hasn't enjoyed the content flood for a bit. Part of that is changes in life style, including a new job. But part was just that the river of ideas had run dry. I've been thinking about IT (Information Technology) management ideas for a bit. In particular, why is it that the best book on the subject to date, The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks, is so studiously ignored by the industry. Are IT managers all ignorant? It seems hard to imagine. But there are millions of people who claim to have seen UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) or even claim to have been abducted by aliens. Could there really be that much of a shared mass hallucination?

I sat down and brain stormed for just a few minutes, and came up with over 100 topics that could each rate an essay. This would be entry zero. In the back of my head, i've wanted to start a podcast for software that is easily consumable, for example, in your car on the way to work. No pictures. No code snippets. Ten to fifteen minutes each. This series may turn into that podcast. Who knows?

In prepartation for this first article, i read one on It's 20 things, each can be done in 20 minutes (6 hrs 40 minutes in all) to improve as a CIO. It highlights one of the reasons i think a blog like mine is better than I don't advertise. I have no incentive to hype anything. I have no incentive to conform.

Some of it is common sense. Try short meetings. Encourage staff training. Check your competitor's SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) 10-K reports. Check your own 10-K report. Introspection, including "is this a good job". Get input from users. Get input from senior staff. Get input from junior staff. Talk to people you wouldn't normally talk to. Talk to your vendors. Talk to your customers. Talk with the universe. Go for a walk. The iPhone as a user interface example. Encourage company encryption, especially for laptops. Very little of this is of earth shattering importance.

But some of it is just odd. Have an email free day. What? Email is a tool. It's queue'd communications. You don't have to have a popup tell you that new email has arrived. If it does, you don't have to stop what you're doing to handle it. Don't send me email to invite me to a meeting in twenty minutes. It's very unlikely i'll read it. This is misuse of email. Email has these properties: It's pretty quick to send an informal note. It's potentially imortal, the last copy of this message may never be deleted. Content can be used for reference - it's searchable as long as the content is plain text. And, it's queued. The reader will eventually see it. I don't need an email free day. I'm not addicted to it. I will consider email as an alternative to a meeting. But i'll also consider walking to someone's desk unannounced as an alternative. I don't want some CIO telling me not to use email once a week. It'd be just as silly to ask everyone to hop on one foot one day a week.

What would i add? Well, maybe not in 20 minute increments, but i'll start tomorrow.

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