Friday, May 15, 2009

Respect vs Authority - IT view

In one of the training sessions I attended recently, I was involved in a fierce debate about the 'need to reign in IT programmers'. A lady said that on many occasions, the programmers go on and do things as they want and there was a need to check this. ANother gentlemen piped in saying that,"this is the only profession, where you don't need to have any qualification to be called an expert in". That's where he thought, "IT ALL WENT WRONG".

The disdain was rankling. For one, I think the advances that have happened in/using IT has far surpassed anything else in the last two decades. Think of home pcs, mobiles, gaming, internet for God's sake (the lady chose to differ!!). One of the primary reasons It has happened because of the immense freedom that the IT developers get. These programmers has been either working independently or have got enough freedom in their job to go away and do something that they thought was path-breaking, interesting and fun. Because the resources available to a programmer are essentially available free, he can go about this task all alone, with minimal supervision, and funding.

IT is a field that allows for the greatest exchange of ideas, simply because you can share the essential building block - the code - with anyone in the world. You can copy already available code and create something completely new. If what you come up with is good, people will use, approve, and promote it. If not, you get feedback to improve or bin it.

To say that management needs to always reign in these guys is not understand how fundamentally different things operate in the computing world. Creativity in any field is fostered through breaking down barriers and allowing maximum freedom. It's especially so in IT. Of course there needs to be checks on what the final output is, but even here, the old way of using authority to do that is obsolete and obstructive. Rather, we now have what is called respect. If you create something great - an article, paper, code, or design - you publish it to the world. The world studies it, reviews it, and scores you on your artifact. This is much more democratic, personality independent method of weighing the value of a creation.

You see it in blogs, movie rating,articles and code. Many times the rating is accompanied with enlightened comments from the reviewers, clearly articulating what aspects they liked or disliked. This feedback is much more useful than quality checks done through a single dedicated team of people.

Of course, sometimes the artifact you create, cannot be published to the whole world. But then, you can use private cloud / intranet to access vast pool of people in your organization to review your product.

But the moot point is, in World 2.0, RESPECT WORKS BETTER THAN AUTHORITY. Its high time we recognize and use it fact to our advantage.
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