Monday, June 25, 2007

LOLnptech, nice humor release,

Congrats to those who created and inspired this humorous blog and what a great name, Even mentioned by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

I think the web is a great place for people to escape from the real world and have some fun. The lolnptech is a good example of that.

Dont have anything to say this week though, but there is always next week.

Monday, June 18, 2007

2 steps forward, 1 back or 1 steps forward, 2 back?

In order to make real progress with the use of technology it often seems you have to take some backward steps before moving forward. But when we take those backward steps, do we ever really recover?

Here is an example, an org is about 4 years old, they come up with a great idea to revamp their website and include an awesome platform that transforms their audience into a worldwide collaboration and opens new doors. But in the 2 years it took for all parts to complete the site:
  • their infrastructure and desktops which were donated equipment to begin with, are now 8 years old and are barely operating
  • fiscal management software and data is non-existent
  • operating system on the server hosting the site hasnt been patched
  • credit card #s of donors are not secured
So now this org, with a trail blazing site, is faced with taking large steps backward. But with no funds, expertise or maybe even awareness at what danger they have exposed themselves, all their donors and others to. All this work could go up in a second when the server crashes with no tested backup to restore from or an unnoticed embezzlement.

Or a larger org that decides to move to a new software to meet changing business needs only to find out staff have no computer skills, infrastructure wont support it, desktops cant handle it, etc. So they go ahead with it anyway and begin to fix all the areas they neglected for years, because they just didnt think it was important enough. So the software quickly gets the blame for all the bad things that begin happening like staff quiting, computers crashing, poor IT support, network outages, etc. But in all reality, it was just poor management and funding of the core technology. For the next unforeseeable future though IT has a black eye or two.

Does IT ever really recover from these situations? How do we have direct conversations with the leadership to impress upon them that we have to go back and fix the basics before taking the continual steps forward. Or do we just like taking one step forward and then two back?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Is technology the step child in older orgs?

Look at orgs that are over 100 years old, and technology is 10-15 years old. So for 90+ years the org is doing great, growing and so on, then suddenly these silly computer things come along, everyone (even computer companies) say their is a limited market. Then networks, internet, email and more starts coming, please make it stop.

So these large orgs, where they have only ever needed a CFO and COO, are now looking at CIOs. But will that CIO ever be a part of the family as much as the others anytime in the near future?

You can argue this point all you want, but step-children are different than birth children, hence the name difference. I am not saying either is better or worse, just different. Many step families are healthier and more functional than nuclear families, but by definition are different.

So to continue the analogy, if technology has been forced into an older org by the tech staff or even worse by outside parties, then it may by similar definition, is that a step child, that will always be a little different? Does it make a difference if the technology was brought in by the CFO\COO team and gradually built, accepted and created?

I often feel like people in the older orgs may discount technology as just the latest fad that will wear off. They see the importance and will say that, but still treat it differently than the ideas, tools and strategies that were used when the organization was founded. You hear something like, we were founded and have been very successful because of the way we work and we didnt need computers then.

Anyway, not sure I even came close to making sense in my incoherent rambling and you may be dumber for having read this. But I hope someone is able to translate this into a rational thought, if not, there is always next week.

NOTE: please dont argue about how old technology is, many orgs have only been using it heavily for 10 years. Yes many have been using it for over 10 years. And when I say technology, I mean the technology (networks, internet, etc) that is readily available today. Just play along and dont fight the semantics.

DISCLAIMERS: Please dont take my analogy of step families as negative toward them, that was not my intention.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Why doesnt IT ever get to wear the lampshade at a party?

I have been working on a project for over a year, but it started even before that. I think it is one of the best in my work here and has real importance, but when the CEOs newsletter comes out about what is new, IT is ignored. Instead they push the latest song, video, PR piece, etc. Is IT just not cool enough to pull off being a headline or wearing a lampshade on it's head?

When IT is invited to a party, they are just expected to help the CEO with the mic, laptop, projector and ppt. They are not to be allowed in the fun areas or strategically important. IT is only mentioned or talked about if there is a problem.

Actually now that I think about our last few staff parties, usually only part (if any) of the IT team comes. The rest are still back in the office keeping things running. Maybe those staff that stay back do it because there really is work to do... But I think they just dont feel welcome at the party. They werent invited to have fun and be a part of the team, noone includes them in that. No if they showed up at the party, people would ask them to fix their phone, look at their laptop, or analyze why their computer at home is going rattle, rattle, crash, boom, boom.

Why is this true, is it because IT staff like it that way? I dont think so, even if they say they do. I have been to the NTEN conferences, most of the people there dont appear to want to be left alone. I think it is because they are not recognized, celebrated or included, so they dont feel attached to the other staff or even the mission. How sad that we seclude some of brightest staff with the tools to make a real difference, to just keep the projector working for the staff slide show.

Sorry today's post is a bit negative, it is tough when you work on something that long and the billing goes to a song instead. But hey lets all just sing along and pretend that all is well.

NOTE: disclaimer... I do not claim to be an expert on this nor do I mean to apply this is true for all organizations.