IT and The Scientific Method
Just as computers become old and irrelevant over time, the people, methodologies and business models employed to manage them are no different. Computers are technology, but so are the methods employing them and both tend to lose their effectiveness and efficiencies over time. While many in the tech industry would like you to believe that they are on the forefront of technology, the fact of the matter is that most of them are in it for a paycheck and are content with the way things are; which is the antithesis of technology. Even now, there is a supermajority of people within the technology industry that are operating under the same assumptions today as they did 10–20 years ago without ever auditing the validity of their assumptions against modern times or rationalizing them outside of their own biases.
For instance, there has been a long held belief among the majority of IT professionals, directors and executives that PC’s belong in the enterprise and that Mac’s are a fad or that they’re for person use with limited applications in the enterprise. They will even argue this until they’re blue in the face even though they are incapable of providing you with facts to corroborate such sentiment; because they do not exist. Yet, when asked how it is that Apple, the #1 IT company by assets and revenue, has accomplished what they have via leveraging their own products almost exclusively while their employees generate 3x more revenue per employee than Microsoft, their blue face turns to a bright red as if they are some kind of chameleon. You could even point out how IBM, the inventor of the word ‘PC’ has even switched to Mac because they generate 1/3 of the ownership costs as their ‘PC’ competition and they would most likely be unaware of that fact even though it precludes PC’s from even being considered competitive in comparison to a Mac. In fact, I am objectively more competitive with Usain Bolt in a 100m dash than PC’s are with a Mac in an enterprise setting.
Worse and while these people will claim to have the utmost professionalism and skill, if you were to ask the majority of these people to define their terms, such as IT or ‘Information Technology’, they wouldn’t even be able to give you anything close to a consistent or concise answer except for the occasional “I don’t know.”. In fact, I have yet to find a soul that can take me on a journey into information theory, although I’m confident that they exist.
Just as we have pseudoscience in this world, we also have pseudo IT professionals because they approach technology in a pseudoscientific way. Those that follow the status quo while operating with longstanding biases and seldom questioning their legitimacy of such conclusions tend to wear Pseudoscience on their shoulder like a scarlet letter. As such and even though pseudoscientists can have some degree of success, they depend on luck, trial and error and often brute force while being nowhere near as effective as someone actually taking a scientific approach.
In order to approach something scientifically, you often have to buck convention, challenge the status quo and most of all, you have to be able overturn longheld beliefs and ideas while suppressing your own biases and ignorance. You have to go where the facts take you, you have to be willing to leave old ideas behind, you have to be capable of putting everything secondary to the truth, and most importantly, you have to be humble. These are the hallmarks of virtually every scientific mind that has been immortalized throughout human history; from Socrates to Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Scientists accomplish this by adhering to the scientific method, which is designed to help us account for our own inherent ignorance, biases and egos that make us human while helping us follow the facts wherever they go, especially when it shows us that we are wrong. While being delusional and ignorant is part of what makes us human, being capable of analyzing and accounting for such aspects of our nature is what makes a scientist a scientist; but it also has the same impact on IT professionals just the same.
In technology and science alike, it isn’t what you know, but how you find things out and there is no better means of finding things out than the scientific method in this regard. As of right now, such qualities are often viewed as intangible or ‘nice to have’ while being viewed as secondary to education and experience as far as most recruiters are concerned. The vast majority of enterprises are deviating from their fiduciary duties by not approaching matters in a scientific manner and saying ‘good enough while their departments are anywhere from limited to dysfunctional as a result. Because of this, a lot of companies are spending anywhere from 3–10x more than they should be on their IT infrastructure while severely impeding productivity in comparison to those taking a more modern approach to IT.
Technology and science go together like music and dancing or wheels and tires, and as a CIO/Director/Manager you have to ensure that your ranks are filled with people that understand and embrace scientific approaches above anything else. Failing to do so only leads to further complexity, confusion in a domain that is inherently confusing and complex, which is counter productive to everything that we aim to accomplish as IT professionals.