15 May The Information Technology Curse – An Analogy
One typical day in the office, Mr. Boss calls a meeting with Mr. IT to describe the task he would like to have completed. Mr. Boss starts by saying he has budgeted some money for a simple project that involves going to the store to pick up a t-shirt, a pair of shoe laces, and a small bag of popcorn. After a brief discussion, Mr. IT assures Mr. Boss that his department can take care of the task right away. Mr. IT takes the money from Mr. Boss, and heads out to accomplish the assignment. Mr. IT goes to the garage to get the car he will be driving to the store, only to learn that the only car available has a manual transmission, and the company has scheduled a class to teach several employees how to drive a stick shift. Mr. IT is informed that he must wait for the class to be completed before he can have the car to complete his task.
Several hours pass, and the automobile is finally made available to Mr. IT. When he gets the car, he learns that it is very low on fuel, so he will have to budget the time and money to refuel the car at a gas station on his way to the store, and he will have to spend a significant portion of the money he got from Mr. Boss to buy enough fuel for the car to complete the assignment. Already behind schedule, Mr. IT rushes to the convenience store to purchase the three items on his list. When he arrives at the store, he is told by the clerk that this store has shoe laces and popcorn, but does not carry t-shirts. Thinking fast, Mr. IT grabs a bag of popcorn and a pair of shoe laces, and gives them to the clerk for check out. When the clerk tries to ring up the purchase, he scans the bar codes on the items, and the register shows a total of $200 for the items. Mr. IT tells the clerk that this price cannot possibly be right for popcorn and shoe laces. The clerk tries again, and gets the same results. Mr. IT asks the clerk to ring up the purchase manually, but the clerk says he does not have any way to ring up a purchase manually. Mr. IT decides to put the items back on the shelf and go to a different place to purchase the items he needs. He calls ahead on his cell phone to the next store, and is assured by the person on the other end that this store carries all three items at an acceptable price.
With this new information at hand, Mr. IT rushes to the next store before it closes to purchase his items. The clerks at this new store are eager to have Mr. IT’s business, so they send out some clerks to gather up the items and bring them to the cash register. Mr. IT is about to purchase the items when he notices a big hole in the t-shirt, popcorn leaking from the bag, and dirt all over the shoe laces. Getting frustrated with the situation, Mr. IT calls the store manager to register his dissatisfaction with what has been delivered, and the store manager sends more clerks out to gather items that are not defective. Mr. IT examines the new items brought to him, and sees that the t-shirt and popcorn are fine, but there is only one shoe lace instead of two. The clerk who brought the shoe lace tells Mr. IT that he inadvertently left the other shoe lace on the desk in the manager’s office, and Mr. IT can go to the office to get the other shoe lace after completing his purchase. Mr. IT pays for the items he has, and takes the sales receipt to the store manager’s office to retrieve the other shoe lace. As Mr. IT enters the office, the missing shoe lace is indeed on the desk in plain sight, but as he reaches out to pick it up, the store manager appears and asks him what he is doing in the office. Mr. IT shows the manager his purchase receipt, and points out that he has come into the office to retrieve the other shoe lace he has paid for. The store manager tells Mr. IT that this office is private, and he cannot allow people to come in and take things out of the office without first checking with the people in his store to verify the story. After several phone calls and meetings, the store manager verifies that the shoe lace was put in his office by a store clerk, and Mr. IT was sent there to get it.
Now that Mr. IT is long past due back at his own office, he jumps into the car and races back toward work. Three blocks short of his destination, Mr. IT’s automobile runs our of fuel, and he has to ask some people passing by to help him push the car back to the parking lot. When he arrives to confront Mr. Boss, Mr. IT delivers the items he bought, and tries to explain the unforeseen troubles he had in carrying out what Mr. Boss perceived to be the simplest of tasks. Mr. Boss listens to the explanation with no small amount of skepticism, but decides to look over the goods that Mr. IT has brought back. On viewing the purchased items, Mr. Boss tells Mr. IT that he bought the wrong brand of popcorn, and brought back the wrong color of shoe laces. Mr. Boss says he is very disappointed that Mr. IT has proven to be so inept at carrying out such an easy assignment, and wonders what would have happened if he had given Mr. IT a more difficult task to accomplish. Mr. Boss decides to fire Mr. IT, and replace him with someone he believes to be better suited to accomplish the company’s goals. Unfortunately for Mr. Boss, the new Mr. IT lives and works in India, and cannot speak English. Is anyone interested in becoming Mr. IT?.
By John Dir