1 – No Major Role Should be Owned by More than One Team

Active Directory, Web services, Information Security, Databases, whatever it is, one team should “own” it.  One team should be responsible for controlling changes to it as well.  Period.  Other teams can, and should provide input and request changes, but only one should have the keys.

Imagine if air traffic control was a shared responsibility between those in the tower and others wandering the terminals.  Bodies would be strewn everywhere.  One team or person per role.  A courtroom has one judge.  If you allow too many cooks in the kitchen things will get out of control.  If your methods are broken, no tools on Earth are going to fix them.

2 – Chain of Command is a Must!

If upper management directly tasks staff more than one layer below them on a regular basis, it is a red flag sign of failure.  Period.  “Chain of command” isn’t just some playtime dress-up nifty thing military folks like to have fun with.  It has very serious implications.  If left unchecked, nobody wins.  The business will eventually implode.  I’ve seen it way too many times.

When upper management goes directly to lower staff to get things done it means there’s no trust and no communication.  Everyone is caught off balance and status monitoring becomes a nightmare.  Mid-level management has no way to manage their resources, and lower staff are confused about who to report to.  Whenever executive management sees this in practice, they should put a stop to it, or fire those who refuse to establish and maintain a hierarchical order of management and responsibility.   Geez.  Kindergartners can do it, so can you.

3 – See Past Paperwork.  See the Person Behind It

Education and degrees are nothing to ignore.  Neither are certifications.  But if you think those two alone are all that matters when picking the right people, you’re stupid.  Period.

Some of the most brilliant people I’ve known in various aspects of IT had nowhere near the education or credentials of others who couldn’t think their way out of a wet paper bag.  Luckily, someone gave them a chance.  I’m glad they did.  Lots of other people are glad they got a chance also.  Think a Masters Degree is all there is?  What about this guy?

If you’re not investing in your people, you’re investing in their reasons to leave.  If you’re not focused on keeping talented people, you’re not focused on helping the business.  If that’s the case, then what are you focused on?

4 – Keep Your Perspective

Anytime you catch yourself thinking about how important your operation is, ask yourself how many human lives it will *directly* impact (i.e. life or death).  Ask yourself how many people will be made healthy or homeless as a result of what you’re doing.  If you’re directly working on things that can cost people their lives and livelihood, take a breath and calm down a bit.

Business and profitability are important, but without people they mean nothing.  And if you stress yourself into a stroke or heart attack, that deadline really means nothing.  One former colleague used to say “Geez.  We’re not Google.” whenever a discussion over trivial things got too wrapped up in emotion.

5 – You’re Made to Communicate.  Not to be a Vault

One of the worst things any “team” can suffer with, much less an IT team, is information hording.  If you know something, share it.  That doesn’t mean go blabbering around like a wind-up toy on Red Bull.  Document it.  Discuss it.  Sharing is two-way, so find ways to exchange what you know or learn with someone else who has some knowledge of value to you.

If you prefer playing a game of “whoever dies with the most secret knowledge, wins”, you need to find another career.  As one professor I knew once said, “you have eyes, ears, a mouth and hands.  You’re made to communicate and do things.  That doesn’t mean sit and stare at a monitor your entire life.”  He also said coffee will become your best friend.  He was a genius.



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