IT works in absolutes. This might come from working with ones and zeros, but it seems as though IT professionals (when faced with a problem), go only for absolutes. As Peter Kretzman recalls, there was an instance where a sudden volume on a website caused it to crash, and the solution posed was to bring in ten front end servers (something that would solve the problem, but was much more than what was required to fix the crash). IT also often looks for the perfect fix rather than a good or acceptable fix—which leads to a delay in putting any fix in place. It’s this insistence on idealism that is puzzling to Kretzman:
It’s odd, because the need to compromise actually looms everywhere: in our systems requirements, the users we must satisfy, our budgets, our resource capability, our schedules, our legacy hardware and software. All engineering relies on the art of compromise; no bridge was ever built to withstand any possible load. Yet what’s most odd in IT is that various forms of technical, management, and methodological idealism persist, recur, refuse to die, often feeding on sheer inexperience mixed with equal parts hubris and testosterone.
The author then goes on to share a series of examples where the reaction to a problem was much more extreme than perhaps what was necessary to resolve the issue. For instance, a team isn’t sure how “best” the best practices they find are, so they ignore all best practices. Another example comes from people misusing a bug-tracking tool, and thereby decide to only document bugs on index cards (which subsequently get scattered throughout the office and are often difficult to understand after a period of time).
Using absolutes in IT might not always be the worst decision—but it’s often one that can have significant repercussions on the success of your team. As Kretzman states, there isn’t anything wrong with idealism (aiming for a perfect solution), but it shouldn’t hamstring you into doing nothing when perfection can’t be reached.
Read the full article here: http://www.peterkretzman.com/2013/09/25/it-does-the-moonwalk-our-endless-search-for-absolutes/