Yesterday, a younger colleague and I were brainstorming about a particularly sticky issue we were facing-involving technology, best practice, and how to communicate benefits to stakeholders-problems we all deal with every day. At the end of our session, where lots of extremely brilliant ideas and insights were exchanged, he asked me a simple question. I gave an off-the-cuff flippant answer, but the question caused me to ponder the “real” answer.
The question was, “Over the past couple of decades that you’ve spent in IT, have we gotten any better at our jobs?”
My flippant answer was, “Oh yes, of course we continue to learn and improve.” I explained that the reason it looks like we’re always on the cutting edge and fumbling our way forward is because our industry (I refer to the IT universe) evolves so quickly. We’re actually constantly in new territory, always dealing with new technology, which necessitates new practices, which impacts not only our own environment (the IT department) but often profoundly impacts, our businesses, our industries and…. even our entire economy! Whew, heavy stuff.
So as I ponder the accuracy of that answer, I wonder…. Have we gotten any better at our jobs? Does the constant evolution in the IT industry mean that the playing field is always changing so much that we can’t really hone our skills and codify best practices the way the established professions and sciences have? We are in a “soft” business that, even in its daily practice, is still to a large degree, “art.”
So what’d you think? Do you senior practitioners out there think we deliver our solutions today with higher quality, better business alignment, a better on-time record, more cost effectively, etc., than we did 20 years ago?