Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Reason #247

*This is my actual career pretty much in a nutshell. Except for ColdFusion. I did ASP programming. Go figure. And yes, there is a web app that I wrote in 2001 that is still running.

**OK, the first paragraph is pretty much true, but we never really got beyond that. There is no campus-wide "Web Office" here, but if there was, I guarantee it would have no actual authority.

***Back to the literal truth.

OK, OK, I'm not trying to harsh on our IT managers here. They honestly try to do their best with limited resources. I actually peeved off a couple of directors when I asked if they'd had management training, because in their case, they did have at least some training, but "lots of experience". But I think they both admitted they'd had no training here at Hypothetical State University.

Anyway, this cartoon is more a satire of myself than it is of anyone else. I'm trying to get a PMO off the ground with no effing clue of what I'm doing. But, hey, I'm as good at project management as anyone else in our IT department. Sigh.

But the serious question is this: do we really prepare people for IT management? Do we groom people to become managers? Train them? Give them the best tools possible to succeed and lead the organization? I dare anyone to answer yes.

Again, I'm not trying to apportion blame here. It's really a matter of cultural priorities and awareness. We've never focused on it before, and no one has insisted that it's an absolute must, so although we know it has value, we never quite get around to it. And anyway, there are always more "urgent" fires to put out.

The saddest thing to me is that we have technical people who *could* be prepared to be good managers, but we don't invest in them, and they either never get the opportunity to advance because they lack management qualifications (Catch-22 style) or they do advance and become poor managers because they never got the training and support they needed.

The worst thing about this whole situation is that we are on *at least* our second generation of IT managers who basically just rose up through the ranks without formal preparation to be an IT manager. The older generation is now retiring and a new generation is taking over.

Are we cluing in on the need for cultural change in IT yet?


Jason Woodward said...

I think many HigherEd orgs (Cornell included) frame this problem the wrong way.

Technical proficiency (in any discipline) is not an indicator of potential managerial proficiency or desire. No amount of training will make a good manager out of someone who has no potential or desire
to be one.

Yet, these organizations are structured in a way that allows career advancement only for those willing to make the transition from practitioner to management. They lack a so-called dual career ladder which allows advancement based on technical proficency to match the pay grade, respect and leadership roles afforded to the management track.

This dual career ladder has been available for a long time in many successful non-higher-ed organizations, and should be implemented in Higher Ed in order to attract and retain talent.

Here's some discussions I found on the topic with a quick google search. I've skimmed them, but not considered them deeply, so don't shoot me if they say something particularly stupid :)

Dave said...

You were a great manager!****

****not true

Tony Dunn said...

David, you were a great employee!!****

***also not true