The Least Amount of Administrative Effort

Anyone who has ever decided to take a Microsoft certification knows how utterly evil and soul-consuming those tests and their dastardly trick questions can be. They don't want you to learn the information. They want you to fail. And then cry.

But that's not why I'm here today. While studying for this brain-sucking torture session test, I've noticed a theme in the hordes of practice questions I've been answering. A the end of almost every question, the grand people at Microsoft want you to accomplish the task with "the least amount of administrative effort." I always took this statement for granted. Obviously, if I'm going to do something, I'll do it in the least amount of steps possible. But the more I think about, the more I realize that the IT people are the only people that get paid to encourage laziness. Seriously, what other industry rewards lack of effort? In a world where everyone is pushed to try harder, if I'm trying hard, I'm obviously doing something wrong! Worded differently, each Microsoft question could have said "How is this problem solved, and how will you do it without ever getting out of your chair or picking up a phone?" And that's exactly what IT shops around the world are striving to achieve. We just implemented a remote desktop application (called Dameware) that allows us to look, change, and edit, all kinds of things on users' PC's without them ever knowing. That means we don't have to call them, we don't have to schedule around their meetings, and we don't have to deal with their PC illiteracy ("I'm looking at my keyboard, and I don't see the start button"). And we were applauded for finding and implementing this software.

Ironically, it's that same laziness that makes us IT guys stressed out and overworked. You see, we've fallen into the same trap that all technological innovation falls into. If I can kill two birds with one stone, I'll just be expected to kill more birds. If it takes an hour to fix an issue instead of two, then I'll just give you another issue to fix. That's why we now have 6 Desktop Support staff for 800 users. When I first started this job, I found a way to shorten a one and a half hour software installation to ten minutes. I was proud of myself, people were happy with the solution, and all was well in the world. Problem is, now we just get more of that software to install in a shorter amount of time.

So, maybe this "laziness doctrine" of IT isn't really accurate. It's really an "efficiency doctrine". You see, the other way to reword the Microsoft question is "How do I solve this problem, and how do I do it in the least amount of time so that the company saves money in man-hours, and I can quickly and efficiently go on to the next problem?"

This really just proves the point that people have been making for decades. Technology designed to make our lives easier is really just making us responsible to do more work. For each advance that improves our quality of life, we make it harder for ourselves to take time time and enjoy those advances. I think this is what drives the gadget movement. Admiring the latest gadget takes our minds away from the notion that in all actuality, technology makes our lives harder. The Blackberry that was going to organize your life and let you spend more time away from the computer is now a ball-and-chain extension of your work computer. Your multi-tasking speed demon PC was supposed to enable you to get things done faster is now requiring you to squeeze even more work out of your busy schedule, making you stay at work later.

I'm not going to leave you with an open-ended question of whether technology is good or bad. That one's been thrown around for ages. I have answers.

Technology is good. This trap that we find ourselves in - completely escapable. It's really all about staying ahead of the curve. The ones who adopt and adapt to technological innovation early and well will always appreciate the freedom that the technology brings. When the curve catches up and the manager is giving you more work, the real technology leaders are already finding a way to make that new benchmark easier to complete (with the least amount of administrative effort). The people that adopt the advances for the pure enjoyment of it, because they thrive on it, and because they understand the true value of advanced technology, those people are the ones sitting back in their office chair, finished, with time to spare because they took the time to learn the new Windows tweaks or that new Excel feature that made their lives just a little bit easier.

So, my answer is that technology benefits those who embrace it. If you let technology come and go, and take the advances for granted, you're doomed to be trapped by it, instead of liberated.

Now, I need to get my lazy butt of this chair and study for test...

with the least amount of administrative effort.

1 comment:

Benjamin said...

I hate Microsoft tests... That's all I really have to say.

Post a Comment