Thought for the day: Sack me or back me

IT departments should face regular votes of confidence from the rest of the business, says Colin Beveridge.


IT departments should face regular votes of confidence from the rest of the business, says Colin Beveridge.




I must admit that my confidence in our elected politicians has been significantly restored this week.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not taking any sort of party political stance over the effective de-selection of Iain Duncan Smith as the Tory leader.

I don’t really care who leads the Conservative party - so long as they are there to serve the general wishes of the electorate, rather than their own personal interests.

This isn’t a party political broadcast either. My new-found confidence derives entirely from the pragmatic, some may say Machiavellian, process whereby a workgroup has held a timely snap poll to gauge whether or not the bloke in charge is up to the job.

It makes me wonder how many of us would have the courage to put our own jobs on the line in such forthright terms – sack me or back me?

How many IT directors, managers or team-leaders could carry the day in a secret ballot of their customers, colleagues, staff and employers?

Maybe we could test the waters by putting up simple, but anonymous polls on our company intranets. At least that way we wouldn’t be faced with a protracted process of dealing with spoiled ballots or hanging chads.

Obviously, unlike IDS, we couldn’t really be expected to put our jobs on the line in such an arbitrary fashion. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating proposition and I would love to hear from anybody with the guts to try it out in the real world.

The other positive aspect of the forthcoming Tory leadership contest is that the MPs have actually forced the issue by calling the confidence vote in the first place, rather than just letting a growing climate of discontent fester unresolved beneath the convenient cloak of expediency.

Instead of endlessly dancing around the metaphorical handbags, they have placed their various concerns and doubts about their leader firmly into the public domain; a very commendable course of action as far as I am concerned.

For sure, some people will always prefer to wash their dirty linen in private, but when it comes to questions of fundamental competence and confidence, I would much rather see the relevant issues out in the open and dealt with in a grown-up, mature way. And, of course, an important part of maturity is admitting that you are aware of your problems.

All too often I have seen IT functions that desperately try to preserve a public air of cautious infallibility while their internal and external customers quietly seethe in frustration about poor service, or lack of responsiveness to their business needs.

That’s why I think it would be such a good idea to let the rest of the organisation give us IT workers a vote of confidence every now and again – provided, of course, that we can be mature enough to deal with the outcome of the vote if it doesn’t particularly match our own well-developed delusions of adequacy.

What do you think?

How do you think your IT department would fare in a vote of confidence from the rest of the business?   Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the website. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Colin Beveridge is an independent consultant and leading commentator on technology management issues. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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