Stories from My Past: Be careful what you ask for

In IT you often find that when you give people exactly what they want, they are sorry they ever asked.

I helped one person who wanted a new version of Adobe rolled out to the entire company. They were working on a project and that project needed a new version of Adobe. Not an unreasonable request. I asked someone to test that new version and they tested it.

A week later that person had a different problem and I went to help them. It turns out that the fix was to upgrade their versionĀ of Adobe just like the other person who was testing it. However when I went to upgrade them they said “Maybe we shouldn’t upgrade this because it might break my other applications.” This was the same person who asked for the entire company to be upgraded the week before. I agreed that could happen, and upgraded him anyway. It worked fine. Problem solved.

Of course I went to my supervisor and told him what happened. The same person wanted the entire company to be upgraded, but not himself personally. You can’t have it both ways.

Often the quick and easy answer seems to be upgrading the software. Many times this is the correct one. I personally like using recent and supported software. However not every company believes in this. Many companies use very old software that is poorly supported or not at all. This is the main cause why they have problems as well.

To me, when you quickly want to make a major change and don’t consider the consequences you are just asking for problems. If I had upgraded everyone that day like it was my technical ability to do, I might have unleashed worse problems. Having someone test a change is so helpful, and so basic in giving the best IT experience for users.

If you want disaster make a quick change. If you want stability, think decisions through.

New equipment sometimes means hurt feelings

New equipment sometimes means hurt feelings.

Let me give you an example. I once worked at a company that was pretty cheap. They didn’t spend money on regularly refreshing their equipment, so it was years old and very slow.

One day I was asked to upgrade some people to have two monitors instead of a tiny 15 inch one they had. As I did this, many people asked me if they were getting a monitor. I said that I had a list and only the people on the list got one. So there were lots of hurt feelings because they didn’t feel important enough to get a second monitor.

So guess what? A few days later one of the older monitors breaks. Now in any other company this would be an opportunity to just upgrade it with the new larger monitor. However in this case the political climate was to get the permission of their manager so that any hurt feelings could be addressed before this was done. Interesting isn’t it? Normally you would just replace something that is broken and let people deal with it as best they can.

In one way this is nice. It is nice that a company is aware of peoples feelings. In another way this is kind of treating people like children. Children don’t have the emotional capability of regulating their feelings like adults show, so you have to treat them more gently than an adult.

Of course the next day the monitor got replaced. However I see this happen in every company. Once someone gets something, everyone else seems to need it too.

It is a fascinating thing to watch. The person with the broken monitor said how terrible it would be if her monitor broke. Now that it did, she seemed kind of upset and nervous about the attention she would attract. She did attract attention.

It is ok to have feelings at work. However if your neighbor gets a new monitor or whatever, it doesn’t mean that you are less valuable. It just means people make decisions for reasons we aren’t always aware of.

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