7 venial sins of IT management

Table of Contents

Give it up.

4. Trying to be a business person, not a technology person

You’ve read this advice, over and over and over again. It reached its epitome in companies that adopted the CTO title for the person running IT, resulting in the peculiar assertion that the top person with “technology” in their job title shouldn’t be a technology person.

So please. Consider that you’re being left off the hook. First of all, comparing the two, being a business person is easier. Second of all, unless you think the company’s CFO should be a business person, not a finance person, and that the chief marketing officer should be a business person and not a marketeer, the whole thing just isn’t worth your time and attention.

But since I have your attention anyway, here’s the bad news about the good news: CIOs who try to be business people instead of technology people are like the high school outcasts who are desperately trying to join the Cool Kids Club. They’ll still be excluded, only now they’ve added being pathetic to their coolness deficit.

5. Using ‘architect’ as a verb

Now this is just my opinion, mind you, but I don’t think architect-as-a-verb says anything more useful about what you’re going to do than substituting “engineer” as a verb. Often, when I hear “We have to architect a solution,” I see someone who, having failed to join the business Cool Kids Club, has decided to join the technology Cool Kids Club instead.

6. Employing ‘best practice’

Yes, it’s a losing battle. Frowning at someone who claims something is “best practice” when they mean it’s a good practice, a proven practice, or the minimum standard of basic professionalism is as lost a cause as griping because someone started a sentence with “hopefully” when they meant “I hope.”

Since it is a lost cause, we’ll move along to lucky number seven:

7. Shifting focus from project management to product management

Project management is how organizations make tomorrow different from yesterday in a planful, intentional way.

Product management is the business discipline of managing the evolution of one of a company’s products or product lines to maintain and enhance its marketplace appeal.

IT product management comes out of the agile world, and has at best a loose connection to business product management. Because while there is some limited point in enhancing the appeal of some chunk of a business’s technology or applications portfolio, that isn’t what IT product management is about.

What it’s about is establishing accountability and decision-making authority.

Is this different enough, not to mention enough better than project management to make it interesting?

Probably not. It’s more of a false dichotomy than a revelation.

The big finish

Now that you’ve absorbed this list of CIO venial sins, the next question is which ones you’ll try to fix first. The beauty part is that if you have time to focus on any of them, and certainly if you have time to focus on several, either you’re in pretty good shape as CIOs go, or else you’re so hopelessly delusional that it really doesn’t matter.

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