July 15, 2009

    Yes, I admit it. At one time in my career I was an adrenaline junkie. As a mainframe systems programmer, I lived for those 2 a.m. calls to rush back into work to fix a production problem. In those days if it wasn't nightly batch issues, it was getting the online system back up quickly after it crashed in the middle of the day. The operating environment was complex and the mental stimulus was highly satisfying. Being the hero got us a lot of recognition. And we all enjoy being heroes of the moment, especially in IT where being a hero boosted your compensation. Life was good.

    Then I tried management on for size. I had direct contact with the business unit leaders. What an eye-opener! Although they appreciated and generously compensated us for all our heroic efforts to keep things running, they were also asking questions about why all these service interruptions and late report deliveries couldn't be prevented. The business people analyzed and fixed problems proactively on the business side so why couldn't IT do the same. Some even suggested that we should be wearing colorful wigs, make-up, shiny red noses, polka-dotted suits and floppy shoes. It was then I realized that although we were getting gratification by attacking and solving complex problems, the value of our reactive culture to the business was low.

    The company I worked for at the time embarked on an ITIL journey. I was privileged to be part of the planning and implementation phases (feeling "privileged" now, not at that time). Capacity Management was the first process to be implemented. Boy, what a difference!  Within a year or so, many of our production problems had been mitigated. We had time on our hands. We were invited to participate with Enterprise Architecture teams. We found a whole new world out there. We were looking at new technologies and figuring out if and how they could benefit the business, taking it to new heights. It was more interesting work than scurrying around trying to fix problems. Now when I look back, I wonder how I got so caught up in the reactive thing when there are so many more meaningful things I could do to support my business.

    Perhaps it's time for you to turn in your "adrenaline junkie" hat for a "technology planner" hat.

    Until the next time...


    Category: best-practices