It’s been a while since I’ve made a Peter Griffin-like post in the fashion of his “You know what really grinds my gears…” gag.
However today, after watching Paul Pester (great name) on ITV News today, it’s highlighted an example of what I see all too often in the world of company-IT.
TSB boss insists he has faith in IT department after telling @ITVJoel: ‘If you or I trust IT guys every time they tell us it’s all going to work fine then we would be in a different business’
— ITV News (@itvnews) April 24, 2018
There’s been a growing disconnection between organisations large and small and their IT departments for years, there’s almost a degree of contempt also – which Paul Pester’s interview also seems to highlight. The reality in large and complex organisations, is that IT is generally starved of budget and resources it needs. It tends to sit under the finance operation and the IT staff are generally whipped until they deliver. Most IT pro’s work miracles with what they have, quite often with outdated, redundant and often, risky solutions to problems (risky in terms of robustness not dangerous!). Even in well staffed IT departments, getting capital expenditure for hardware can often be a challenge.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say no department in a company wants more money, it’s absolutely true that every one of them does. However, I’ve seen far too often IT Departments refer to their colleagues who don’t work in IT as “The Business” and other management types refer to IT as the “IT People” you’re thinking The IT Crowd aren’t you? Well, yes, me too.
However, what’s more worrying and Paul Pester’s interview has been the most interesting piece of evidence I’ve ever seen of the IT people being used as a scapegoat. I do feel this is due to the disassociation between IT and business.
Ultimately Paul’s the CEO, he’s publicly belittled his IT staff who have been probably pulled all-nighters for the last few days trying to stop a disaster he’s probably been warned about from happening! Okay, we don’t know for sure. However, it’s a technologically complex project they’re carrying out, as they’re moving to their own new IT platform – previously having run on Lloyds Banking systems which they’ve been doing since the brand was resurrected and the businesses split. So my guess is that any self-respecting CEO would have been at the thick end of such a milestone project within the organisation to make sure it does go down without a hitch.
A side rant is quite often the battle between big picture leadership (a.k.a. seagull leaders, watch everything from a high level and every now and again swoop down and sh1t on things) or being detail conscious. I’m often told that big picture people don’t do detail and that’s how leaders should be. I of course disagree, it’s about knowing when to get involved in the detail and when you can safely leave your people to it.
He is the leader of the entire of TSB, that for me, includes the IT function. He appoints the senior managers, sets the strategy and monitors performance. There’s very little excuse to distance himself from the IT people and probably not doing much for their morale. It could be a complicated project gone wrong due to the sheer complexity.
However, my gut says during the last few years of multiple RBS / Natwest IT failures, British Airways, HMRC and countless others. That it’ll all be about money.
So you know what really grinds my gears? Senior management who conveniently show no interest in IT, claim ignorance because it’s difficult or they don’t understand. Then take no responsibility for it not delivering when they probably never showed any interest to begin with. That’s certainly not leadership. I like many other people don’t know that much about medicine, however if I’m talking to a doctor, I ask questions until I understand and act on what I’ve learnt. If I haven’t learnt anything, I pick another doctor! Get the right IT people, like the right doctor, they’ll explain things to you in a manner you can understand. That’s what the leadership are supposed to do, get the right people and ask the right questions.
So rant over. But I for one am thinking about the stressed out, under pressure, unwashed and tired TSB IT guys and gals tonight. Things may not have gone to plan, but I’m sure there are people working hard and they certainly deserve more encouraging leadership.