“The Linux philosophy is ‘laugh in the face of danger.’ Oops. Wrong one. ‘Do it yourself.’ That’s it.” — Linus Torvalds
Professionals like do-it-yourselfers. Undoing a bad job and replacing it with a good one is, after all, more profitable than starting from scratch.
Not that all do-it-yourselfers are hopeless (or, for that matter, hapless). The trick for those of us who engage in DIY is knowing when a new project is a reasonable stretch and when our daydreams of the perfect installation crash into a needed skill that, like soldering copper pipes with a blowtorch, is just too terrifying to contemplate.
Add to that an entire industry devoted to making DIY projects less daunting — a recent successful adventure with digital door locks comes to mind — and the equation becomes more interesting.
This being KJR we aren’t, of course, talking about home improvement. We’re talking about office improvement through the deployment of so-called “shadow IT.” One difference … no analogy is perfect, after all … is that unlike home improvement failures, where professional plumbers, electricians, and dry wallers are happy to get paid for fixing someone else’s mistakes, IT professionals aren’t usually too thrilled when they’re called in to deal with DIY software gone wrong.
Which isn’t to say trying to stomp out shadow IT is a good idea, any more than trying to stomp out DIY home improvement would be a good idea.
As is so often the case, good policy starts by recognizing that different groups have different priorities.
With home improvement, the goals for a typical DIYer (aka me) are, in descending order of importance, (1) saving money; (2) getting a warm feeling of accomplishment; and (3) receiving admiring compliments from friends and family.
Home improvement professionals, in contrast, most likely want: (1) profitable income; (2) repeat business; and (3) referrals.
Software DIY? My informal experience tells me the DIYer’s goals are quite parallel — to get: (1) the benefits of automation sooner rather than later; (2) a solution that’s tailored to fit the situation without having to explain what’s needed in detail; (3) admiring compliments and all that.
IT’s goals when implementing software are a bit different. In particular, IT wants (1) easy and maintainable integration; (2) solutions and the platforms they’re built on that aren’t going to vanish from the technology marketplace, provided by (3) vendors that also aren’t going to vanish from the landscape; and, oh, by the way, that (4) do enough of what business requesters want that they can live with the gap, without demanding a lot of tailoring or customization.
That’s quite a mismatch. But the mismatch between DIY IT and IT-led implementations isn’t a problem. It’s a place to start.
Bob’s last word: That two groups have different goals isn’t an insurmountable problem … unless, that is, the groups have no interest in achieving any goals other than their own.
What we typically have is mutual distrust and fault-finding. What we need is a methodology that accommodates both IT’s and business DIYers goals.
Bob’s sales pitch: It doesn’t address this issue specifically, but I think you’ll find chapters 4 and 5 of the KJR Manifesto helpful, and not just for dealing with shadow IT.
They’ll help any time addressing two groups’ distrust is where you need to start.