The non-technical new age of technical management

I was passed on a great quote recently by a member of my team (HT – James).

The quote is from Archibald Putt in 1976 and while it’s famous within the technology set, I had not heard it before.

“Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage. Those who manage what they do not understand.”

It got me thinking about how I am perceived as a manager of a technical team and if I was in fact the latter. (Hopefully not in an IT Crowd kind of way!) Heading back to the technosphere in the ’70s, I have no doubt I would be; I would have been lost in Limbo and crucified alive. After all, it’s hard work keeping up with a group of people when you don’t speak the ‘language’. But with the pace of tech evolution in the last few decades and especially with the explosion of Web 2.0 tools, everything has become so much more accessible, communicable and humanised. Thus, I find it almost impossible to not have some sort understanding of everything from the programming language used, to server infrastructure, DNS management, right through to the strategy and planning. Understanding and doing are two different things of course, but if you can communicate clearly – regularly bringing projects back to the bigger picture and keeping it transparent for members – the world is your oyster. You can get things done.

I wonder… in general, do we need to care for buzz terminology any more? For overtly-technical convoluted language? Or rather, do we just want and need to know how it makes us feel? What it will do for us? What will it mean for us? How will it change us? If technology is really about the people, then if you understand people – you understand the technology. I’d like to think I understand people, or at least I make it a life-long aim so presumably technological understanding and I are one.

Poor nerds… they worked so hard to develop a place to call home… only for it then to become so easy for people to enter. But for which, I am eternally grateful.

3 thoughts on “The non-technical new age of technical management

  1. I dunno. I think it’s all in levels. You wouldn’t want to walk into a doctor’s office where this guy claims he knows how to treat an illness because he’s seen 3 seasons of House.

    But yes, the whole point of technology evolving is so it is easier for everyone and anyone to use. Interfaces are being designed more and more for Joe Blow, and not for the isolated basement hacker. IT is moving away from being a niche to being a standard in everyday life. Heck, it already is. Though being a teacher I also encounter those people who have no idea and who have trouble with the concept of how to use a mouse.

    Management though, even of an IT department doesn’t require the management of the niche, but more of the people who understand the niche. Sure you should be ‘cluey’ but you’re not meant to be the expert. Those who do the work are.

    As a side note, VERY proud that you know the IT crowd :) hehe

    @day

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