Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Defensive Requirements

I’ve been through the wringer over the last couple of days with a software deployment for one of my customers. Nine salesmen flew in with their laptops to have the new CRM system installed and to get training, and we’ve spent the last day and a half just trying to get their systems ready: upgrading operating systems, patching operating systems, setting up wireless networking, adding computers to the networking domain, etc. My only salvation has been that the people I’m working for are the nicest people in the world and have been very understanding. Nonetheless, when nine pushy guys are all visiting you ever few minutes and saying, in that practiced sales tone, “Are you done with my laptop yet?” . . . it’s stressful.

All of which is the result of promising too much. I learned a ton of stuff about everything under the sun by being a go-to guy in a small software company, but the downside of being a generalist is that you don’t know when to say, “That’s not my job.” Had I been wiser, I would have forced someone else to be responsible for making sure the laptops were in good shape before they showed up with them. I might still have been the one to do all the work . . . but at least they would have understood that I was going out of scope.

The soul of an IT guy hangs in the balance of this sort of struggle. On the one hand, I can’t do everything for everyone. On the other hand, I don’t want to be one of those trolls who just reflexively says, “That’s not my job” ever time something unexpected comes up. The secret to responsible service seems to be finding the nicest possible way to say “no.”

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