No matter what position you have in IT, you can distill your job down to three tasks. Individual contributor, team lead, management, it doesn’t matter; when every day starts, Manage, Automate, and Improve are three tasks for you to accomplish. Unfortunately, most of us only get to the first one, Manage.
Manage is the doggy paddling of IT. Manage is reactive and doesn’t require planning. All you have to do is look at your queue of tickets, email, whatever; then prioritize and act. Lather, rinse, repeat. This sort of work is boring and soul crushing; and 100’s of thousands of people do it every day.
As you work through your list of tasks, you might start to notice patterns. If there are a number of password resets, maybe you handle them all at once to avoid task switching costs. Perhaps you have a few questions about some tasks; if you need to ask one person those questions, then you can batch up your questions and avoid interrupting that person more than once. However, you need to graduate to Automate and Improve to really show some efficiency gains for your company. Just you being more efficient is not enough; you must transform the entire organization.
When I was a Release Manager, if I had to perform a task for the first time, I would just do it. Install Oracle, create some user accounts on the build system; just get it done. However, the second time I had to perform the task, I would stop and take more time on the second go-around to Automate that task.
When we Automate in IT, we are simply being who we are: lazy, impatient, and proud. As Larry Wall wrote, “The three great virtues of a programmer: laziness, impatience, and hubris.”
There is logic behind those virtues. We Automate because we are lazy. We do not want to unnecessarily expend energy now or in the future so we allow for self-service. We become angry and impatient when the computer is being lazy and demanding that we work. Nope. That computer works for ME! Finally, our hubris compels us to Automate in a way that is extensible and reusable.
So, please be the laziest, most impatient, prideful IT professional you can be. It actually allows you to perform your third job: Improve.
When things go wrong, and they will, you need to Improve via Automation to catch those problems in the future. Improvement is the lifeblood of corporate America and is absolutely required as competitive landscapes and customer tastes change. The whole point of DevOps and Agile Development is to allow our companies to be nimble and respond to those changes.
We believe strongly in Improvement at Datical . That’s why we created a Rules Engine to enforce corporate, technical, and regulatory standards for your database schema changes. DROPs are not allowed? Write a rule and it ain’t gonna happen again. You require indices on foreign key columns? Write a rule and you’ll never see it again.
If you can Manage, you might get the job. If you Automate, you’ll probably keep it. But, when you Improve… there might be a bigger office waiting for you down the hall.