Clueless Managers and Their Technology Bumblings

Businesses have a huge problem, managers don’t know enough about technology and because of this they are hiring the wrong people to help them manage it. This is more than just who they hire because it effects every facet of business.

Technology is every where, we scan and email, instead of fax and send. Most businesses rely on mobile communications such as, email, cellphones, wireless internet, instant messaging, video chat, WebEx and more. Who cares if a potential new hire has 30 years experience, but knows nothing about technology (they still email in all caps and check it once a week).

The saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ exists for a reason – it is mostly true. I would rather hire a fresh college graduate than the experienced candidate because at least I don’t have to teach them how modern business is conducted. Knowing nothing about technology, coming to a company and expecting them to teach you is akin to coming into a company 30 years ago, not knowing how to write or dial a telephone. No one would hire you then, yet people today are hiring people who know nothing about technology.

Technology is at the core of every business, the people at the top need to be masters at it. They don’t need to know how to fix it, but they do need to know how it works.

Some Examples:

Example 1

I was recently told about a company where the person in charge of IT was also the Controller/CFO at the company. Now there is nothing wrong with this, especially given the companies size – except for the fact that the CFO knows nothing about IT. And by nothing I mean, this person calls IT to fix every one of his problems – he knows nothing.

This is a huge problem for obvious reasons, the biggest is the most simplest: the boss/director of any department should be seen as a mentor/smartest guy in the room for everyone else in that department. When you don’t have this kind of hierarchy then you have employees who don’t respect their boss and, by extension, their company.

Example 2

Another company that I know well (very small business) has a one person IT department with a boss that acts like he knows everything. This leads to a lot of downtime and problems that go unresolved at the company. as the IT person bullshits the boss with the problems, that the boss may or may not believe, and so he takes it upon himself to fix the problem. Now the boss is very busy, so guess what? The problem is drug out for weeks before the decision is made to bring in outside help for the problem that the internal IT person has deemed impossible to fix.

Everyone hates fixing IT problems, even most IT support staff. So commonly at a small company like the one above the boss will make it the job of the person they think knows IT the best (by any random metric they so deem). This only exacerbates the issue. Doing this leads to:

  • Prolonged problems as the designated “IT” person has to figure out how to do basic tasks.
  • More problems than you started with, because the new “IT” person Googled and answer and deleted some very important stuff not knowing that this is a critical file.
  • More money lost.

Example 3

There is a private club that I know about who had their website redesigned recently. I was very happy to hear that they were doing this – until I saw the site. It was designed “professionally” in Apples iWeb program. Meaning there is no CSS or CMS, just static HTML that renders poorly on anything but Safari. I checked out the “web developers” site and it too was in iWeb. In fact the site (both the web developer and private clubs site) have password protected areas that redirect you to an Apple MobileMe account (only way you can password protect an iWeb site). What a joke.

This is an example of people who don’t know anything about IT hiring people, yet claim they do. You get what you pay for, every 15 year old and their mom is trying to make a buck designing a site or fixing your IT issues, but you are better off paying a real pro then you are hiring these people. In the end you will never be happy with their work.

Our managers need basic courses in implementing and maintaining todays technology. This should be done in b-school, it should be continued with employers. Technology is here to stay, it is about time we learn it because the excuse “technical issues” is pure B.S. and we should not have to hear it.

At the very least businesses need to implement more backup systems. I am never without a backup way to get on the Internet. I always have a backup phone/communication system nearby. You would not just want one 911 operator, what if they are sick? Nor should you rely on just one piece of technology if it is core to what you do.

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Originally posted for members on: May 11, 2010
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