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IT subculture the cause of project failures?

http://science.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_title=Researchers_Question_I_T__Subcultural_Values&story_id=23563

The "clash of subcultures" -- I.T. workers versus management and everybody else -- is "one place to look for the root of a problem"

curious
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Alright, who's ready to do a study on management subcultures? Things like:
- refusing to treat employees as people
- not listening to subordinates
- not taking scheduling guidance from software developers, instead insisting that an artificial paper deadline from HQ is "the deadline, not open for discussion"
- spending hardware money on overpowered machines for management, while the people who actually do the work have four-year-old technology
- refusing to hire necessary support personnel, forcing overworked IT employees to do tasks they are neither trained nor paid to perform

etc.

Oh, by the way, between IT workers and management, guess who has more authority to get things fixed?

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, March 31, 2004


The fundamental problem with organisations is the lack of focus on details.

Managers are not interested in the details of the projects and processes they manage.  They think the high level decisions matter, they dont. 

(Almost) Any high level decision will be a success if implemented well, almost any high level decision will be a failure if implemented badly

Projects fail because people are too lazy to investigate and clearly specify the details untill it's too late.

braid_ged
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Hmmmm... I've long thought that hi tech is domated by the worst male traits. They all stem from having a big ego (or a weak ego, technically). 

That causes people to:

*Focus on being "right" instead of solving the probelm.
* Not listening to other people.
* Spending more time on gettting credit than solving problems.

Now, to be fair and bash the women, my wife worked at a hospital and the woman-domanated management drove her crazy because they were:

* Overly sensitive
* Focused on everyone getting along instead of solving problems.

The above are extreme male/female traits. Not all m/w have them but they are GENERALLY stronger in each of the sexes.

Actually, it all really boils down to Emotional Intelligence and Ego.

Mr. Analogy
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

By "I.T. projects," they seem to mean sysadmins rolling out new software.  It sucks so bad to be an admin.  At one place, an admin would talk after work about how one of the developers "treated him like his nigger."  At another place, an exec said in front of everyone to an admin, "I guess that's why you're not a programmer."  And these were software companies, not some places scared of tech.

No wonder why "I.T. people" want to be in their caves.  Being a service person is hurtful.  Combine that with the amount of violence people feel when the computer is acting mutinous.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I just thought it was telling that the clash was framed as being between "management and everyone else" vs. "IT Subculture."

Everybody hates "the boss" (management). The fact that management and the other employees can bond over how annoying people in IT are is not a good sign.

curious
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Nothing in the article backs up Stanton's vague claim. Given the opportunity to do so, I am pretty sure that I would really enjoy trying to make these two individuals look like the idiots they seem to me to be.

One Programmer's Opinion
Thursday, April 01, 2004

"[Male:] * Spending more time on gettting credit than solving problems."
"[Female:] * Focused on everyone getting along instead of solving problems."

So you're saying that solving problems is actually nobody's trait? Hmm, I think you're on to something here. ;-)

Chris Nahr
Thursday, April 01, 2004

The article is about IT not software development. That is, about support and MIS.

.
Thursday, April 01, 2004

There was a book out a few years ago called "Crash! Ten Easy Ways to Avoid a Computer Disaster" which studied the whole subject in depth.  Most of the examples were a few years old and centered on the UK but worthwhile nonetheless.  Unfortunately it's out of print.

It seemed to me that most of the examples sited failed due to overconfidence, wishful thinking and people covering their own backside.  More importantly, again in most cases, no one was blameless. 

a cynic writes...
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Mr Analogy -

>>Hmmmm... I've long thought that hi tech is domated by the worst male traits. They all stem from having a big ego (or a weak ego, technically). 

Agreed. One entry on my list of project warning signs is 'no women on the team'.

theWeasel
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Philo:
I left my last company because they had _every_ problem that you outlined.  6 months later, they are well on track to experience about 50% turnover in a year since I left, and if I had to guess, near 100% turnover in two years.  I feel good knowing that I was one of the first to recognize that the ship was sinking, and sneaked out before the mad rush.

Mr. Analogy:
One of the benefits of having women managers focusing on everyone getting along, is that if they're good at it, it really builds a strong team relationship.  Next thing you know, everyone is getting along, everything is clicking, and tons of work gets done.

Elephant
Thursday, April 01, 2004

I have to say that I am in the same boat as Elephant, albiet with a more recent departure date (this week). I was actually the manager of the IT department for a small company, but interference from the owner, a work load that would make Atlas break a sweat, and extremely unrealistic expectations from my job in particular meant it was only a matter of time before I left. The funny things is that the IT dept for this company has been a revolving door for some time, yet the owner hasn't yet figured out that he has something to do with it.

Good to be unemployed (for the time being at least :-)).

BDKR
Thursday, April 01, 2004

The article itself was rather lame.

It points out that IT forms its own subculture. However, that's an inevitable result of specialization. Sales, HR, Accounting, and other departments each have their own subculture with their own tasks, concerns, jargon, priority, and ways of looking at the world. Each subculture's jargon, for example, is required to discuss their domain; it doesn't exist just to confuse outsiders.

The article included complaints that IT workers don't explain stuff to other employees. However, unless IT workers can finish all their tasks with time to spare, which usually isn't the case, it makes sense for them to proceed as quickly as possible.

In fact, the absence of sufficient time and resources is a much more substantive issue than a clash of subcultures. IT is often overwhelmed, while the rest of the company needs the infrastructure that IT provides to do their jobs.

Julian
Thursday, April 01, 2004

The story was about isolated, beleaguered techies who develop a blue collar, adversarial attitude toward users and management, along with technical elitist tendencies that result in muddled communication and bad rapport.

What an epiphany. *Yawn*

Bored Bystander
Thursday, April 01, 2004

The problem is basically a vicious circle. IT doesn't explain why things have gone wrong, so the user doesn't know how to fix it next time, so he calls IT, who thus are overwhelmed and don't have time to explain.

Often the problem is not lack of resources but lack of planning. Too many companies have watched their networks grow ad hoc, and you can find a dozen different types of setup and nobody really knowing what is installed where. A judicious use of partitioning, cloning and of batch files to delivei updates and anti-virus definitions can greatly reduce the amoount of time a techie is spending doing emergency repairs, and thus increase the time available for user training, which should still furhter decrease the time spent in repairs.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, April 01, 2004

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