Hey IT Pro’s – Why don’t they know what you do?

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Myles Suer has published an article over on the Enterprise CIO Forum with a post titled IT Management should not begin and end with a spreadsheet and is now in contention for the Title of the Year.

In the article, Myles writes about attending an event put on by HP at which attendees where asked about performance management, IT management and measurement of performance within their organizations.

Myles writes:

…every person in each room was measuring and managing  the old fashion way—after the fact by manual manipulation of Excel spreadsheets. This is problematic at multiple levels.

Problematic is an understatement….but very true.

Myles’ provides a Top 10 list of Comments overheard at the conference and gives a really interesting look into what IT leaders and professionals are doing and thinking these days (and have been doing/thinking).   There’s not a single item in Myles’ Top 10 list that’s surprising….jump over and read through them.

One of the items on the Top 10 list is the #1 complaint that I hear from most of my IT colleagues.  Myles’ writes it as:

“Nobody knows what we do until it breaks.”

Every time I hear this, I have to count to 10 to keep from blowing my top at the person saying it…then I respond with something along the lines of: “well…why don’t they know what you do?”

Why don’t they know what you do?  

Why don’t they know what you do??

I’ve worked with many organizations where the people outside of IT really have no clue what IT ‘does’.  They know that the IT guys keep the computer running. And they know that the IT guys can get new computers for them. And they know that the IT guys ‘get new software’.

Needless to say, most non-IT people really don’t understand what the IT group does.  Why is that do you think?  Me…I think its because we in IT have spent our careers making our jobs seem mysterious and ‘harder’ than other jobs. We’ve spent our time building walls around ourselves and our jobs to create a black-box environment.

This black-box has been good to us in the past. We could hold people off by putting up our processes and procedures and saying ‘no’ more than we say ‘yes’.  Our black box worked in the past…but it doesn’t work any longer.  In fact, it never really worked that well in the past…we just thought it did.

So…when you hear things (or say things) like “Nobody knows what we do till it breaks”, your first instinct should be to immediately stop what you’re doing and find the nearest non-IT professional and ask them what you can do for them. Ask them how you can help. Ask them what their problems are and what you can do to solve them.

Spend time talking about what you do, what you can do and what they need from you. That’s how you solve the problem’s facing IT today.  Do that, and they’ll know what you do.

Image Credit: what do you do? By the|G|™ on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.