Keep It Simple, Someone*! If there ever was a common man’s rallying plea relative to technology, this is the one. How many people do you know who got an iPod for XMas, only to learn that, before they could use it, they would have to learn how to rip their CD collection to disk? And upgrade the hard drive, or buy additional storage? All of which is a piece of cake, when compared to setting up a wireless network or removing persistent spyware. The most frequent request that I get from the people I support as an IT Director? “I just want it to turn on and work!”. I can relate. Which is why I’m here to tell you that keeping it simple can be a questionable goal, at best.
This week has brought some pretty blizzardy weather on the Facebook front, so thick that I’m in a real quandary as to how I should navigate through it. Understand that, when it comes to Facebook, I try and keep my visits to the neighborhood to a minimum. Short story: I like the ability to keep up with people, but hate the annoying, incessant and spammy applications. I would have no use for Facebook if everyone would simply accommodate me and use LinkedIn and Twitter instead. But, as you might have noticed as well, the whole world apparently got Facebook for Christmas.
We’ve come a long way since the Pony Express. It’s hard to imagine living in a time when your options for communication were limited to face-to-face, sllooowww mail, and, perhaps, carrier pigeon. Today, we have the opposite problem: there are so many mediums to choose from that a key communication skill is to gleam the method that the person you want to reach prefers.
Skeptics take note – I agree with you that Twitter, the “microblogging” service that your friends are pressuring you to join, appears to be the ultimate synthesis of vanity and wasted time. All of that potential is there, and, worse, the service seems to advertise those traits as its raison d’etre. But I’m going to ask you to bear with me as I offer some arguments for the service.
I’m a big fan of maxims, adages, anything that sums up an important, and possibly complex point in a sentence that can convey, if not the whole point, at least a conversation starter. The main challenge for a technology manager is communication, particularly with those who are uninterested and/or threatened by technological terms. I live and breathe this stuff, but I understand that I’m in the ten percent, the ten percent of people who like and are completely comfortable with technology. The rest of the world ranges from averse to highly competent, but not gaga over it all, like I am. Remembering that, and approaching each project and decision with that in mind, has helped me accomplish significant things for people who aren’t necessarily bought in to all of my ideas on first listen.
Here’s another recent Idealware entry (from 9/25/2008). Note that the Idealware post has a healthy comment stream. It seems like every month or two, I happen across a forum thread about project management tools. What works? Can you do it with a wiki? Are they necessary at all? Often, there are a slew of recommendations (Basecamp, Central Desktop, MS Project) accompanied by some heartfelt recommendations to stay away from all of them. All of these recommendations are correct, and incorrect. Project software naysayers make a very apt point: Tools won’t plan a project for you. If you think that buying and setting up the tool… Read More »From Zero to Sixty: What type of Project Management tool is appropriate?
This article was first published on the NTEN Blog in May of 2007. Peter Campbell, TechCafeteria.com I’ve spent more than 20 years in the sometimes maddening, sometimes wonderful, world of IT management. Along the way I’ve worked under a variety of CEOs with very diverse styles, and I’ve developed, deployed and maintained ambitious technology platforms. In order to survive, I put together three basic tenets to live by. 1. Management is 360 degrees: managing your superiors and peers is a bigger challenge than managing your staff. 2. To say anything effectively in an organization, you have to say it at least three times in three… Read More »Lessons Learned: Effective Practices In IT Management