IT turf war No. 4: IT management vs. IT staff
Most geeks wouldn't recognize a critical business process if it bit them on the nose. And though their boss may have "technology" or "information" in his job title, he appears to knows little about either. This is perhaps the most intractable battle in all of IT -- the war between the officer corps and the troops.
"The biggest conflict is between IT management and IT staff," says Pratt. "For some reason, the companies I've worked for seem to hire or promote people who are not technologically literate. It's like that person lost a bet or the president of the company has a half-wit brother who needs a job. You have the IT guys in the field saying, 'You really need to do XYZ,' and the managers saying, 'We're not going to do that; it's going to cost too much money.' They're constantly blocking things that have to be done just because they can."
Back in the '90s, Pratt says he worked for a monitor manufacturer based in China, whose CTO decided to ship all of its CRTs to the United States without doing any burn-in or testing. "Our IT guys were saying, 'No, you got to do testing first.' They wouldn't budge. Sure enough, the monitors showed up in California with skewed pictures. A good 80 percent of them were returned."
On the other hand, says Shalita, the most important decisions a CIO faces aren't about technology per se, but about business outcomes. And that may never enter the mind of an in-the-trenches IT grunt.
"I've had a lot of discussions with a lot of very tech-savvy CIOs," he says. "But at the end of the day, the business decisions they need to make aren't based on sexy technology -- they're based on business outcomes. There's pressure on the CIO from the CEO to deliver business value. The IT guys are focused on the technology in their particular tower."
The fault usually lies on both sides of the divide, says Peter Marsack, vice president at Vision Computer Solutions, an IT service and support provider.
"Most of time time I see conflict relating to IT staff conforming to company policy or believing in the concept of company hierarchy," he says. "The top sources of conflict are the tech person's ego, poor management, a lack of proper leadership, and allowing technical people to make business decisions. The solution there is to know your role and let your talents shine where they should."
And keep your head low, to avoid getting hit by friendly fire.
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