Qui Suis-je ?

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Lyon, France
47, married, 3 marvellous kids. IT Director for the last 15 years for a large multinational company. I believe in coaching, in professional life as well as in private and sports.

Friday, 4 December 2009

What is an Expert? Or how I make my life easier...

In our IT world, we often face very good technical people. Amongst the variety of highly skilled technicians, some will bring a lot to the company, some others will bring a lot to themselves... As IT Manager, you would like to know how to recognize the best value adders technicians. Here are some tricks I use to attempt to detect the ones that will really help my life :
  • Beware of Experts: an expert is somebody that knows more and more about less and less... until he knows everything about nothing! Which means he's so focused on some very high specificities that he becomes useless to the company most of the time and works for his own researchs. Might be fine in a research laboratory, but hardly employabe in any other kind of company. Sky rocketting technical skills are not always a guarantee of benefits for the company.
  • Seek for the Customer approach: A good technician would love to see his solutions effectiveley used by the end-users. What's the point of inventing the wheel in your garage and nobody knows about it ? A good technician will not only invent the wheel and make it known by the public, but will also spend time explaining how it works so that the public makes the best use of it. Avoid technicians that are good inventers, but then use the "throw over the fence" method to transmit their invention into operations group.
  • Escape from "Technology for Technology": I have seen so many cases where a Rolls-Royce solution had been put together just because it was using state-of-the-art technology. The technicians that invented it where so proud about it - with good reasons when you look at it from a technical perspective. But the end result was higher costs for the company, to use unrequired functions, expensive technology, and high maintenance budgets.
  • Look for documentation and sharing skills: if you were to find the criteria that makes the difference between two equally technically skilled guys, you would want to consider their sharing and documenting ability. As previously explained in this blog, documentation is what make the difference between a good technician and a professional one. You need to consider that the solutions to technical issues are not supposed to rest only in his brain (what happens when he is in holidays?)
  • Avoid geeks and garagists: It's fun to think IT is a country of freedom, where you can dress whatever you like, wear improbable tee-shirts and display striking logos for unaproved company standards (preferably open source software ones ;-) ), but in the real world, your IT department is perceived as it looks like. And if your technicians are used to leave dead body machines disembowelled all over the place, then it's likely your IT department will have the influence of garagists, not the one of real value-adders to the business.
With all this in mind, I have always been able to select high value-adders technicians which are really making the difference, or incentive my team mates to improve in the area they were lacking. It's a win-win situation when they really get to it, and that's one of the things that makes my life easier !

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