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Learning from parenting teenagers.

July 10, 2018

Often I use analogies to make sure that people are all on the same page, important if you want to deal with contentious client issues.


As a father of two teenagers one of the regular analogies that I use that seems to resonate strongly with most IT people is the idea that the ‘business’ is being a little like a petulant teenager in relations to the tech that it wants! NB: I need to stress that I am only referring to technology not any other capability.


Underpinning a lot of this is the trend toward Consumerisation of IT in organisations and the expectation of users that they should expect all that they would get as a high street consumer. “I get it at home why is it so different?”


The more I use the analogy the more it useful as way of highlighting some of the businesses demands and demonstrating the consequences of these demands.Imagine the scene you are an older brother of a 1st year University student in halls and away from home for the 1st time in their lives.  You pop over to the flat on a sunny afternoon on a weekend and there are the usual empty cartons of junk food/beer/items purchased and a healthy blended aroma of stale coffee and laundry [not the clean stuff].  There is a desk with study notes strewn all over it and around the flat there are textbooks dotted on most surfaces [good to see that they are actually reading something].It was also clear that they had scant regard for the security of the place and windows and doors were interchangeable as methods of entry. The fancy laptop and smart phone they had worked for months to acquire were sitting on the desk screaming in all there shiny glory, come take me!As the older brother [this is me by the way so insert sister where appropriate] you suggest that a little tidy-up might not go amiss and explain the downside of living a mess, i.e. friendships with the opposite sex, landlord deposits, food poisoning etc.. This is treated with at best distain and at worst some hostility as they cannot see the problem here and it’s how students live isn’t it, much more important to get the grades and have a good time doing it isn’t it!Add into the equation that actually they are doing really well in their studies and indeed impressively despite their lack of hygiene and social graces.  It’s a nightmare from our perspective as the older guy who has seen the error of his ways, it’s frustrating that they just need this sorting and they would be the whole package!From a technology perspective it’s a useful analogy for a relatively successful business that has evolved and used the emerging technologies to deliver the information that they need as and when they become available and relevant.


Technology pieces are not just expensive investments, but in the wrong setting the can be cost the business in other ways. 

This is fine whilst the IT guys are involved and making sure that there is a plan for bringing new stuff in and getting rid of the rubbish or redundant technology.  Applications dot the businesses technology landscape in any organisation and need to be managed to keep them fresh and remove any that are past their sell by date.


Technology is a moving feast and if you allow the business to hoard everything without seeing the consequence in either increased complexity and running costs or risk there are consequences.  The consequences are that partners might be less inclined to put up with your idiosyncrasies and complexity affects the ability of the business to leverage its information to gain that all important competitive advantage.


So explaining that a housekeeping routine and a little pragmatism over the demand for new ‘toys’ [junk food] along with some support in securing the place is all you are asking.  The benefits to all of us as adults are clear in the context of the student flat why wouldn’t we apply the same principle to technology?


If nothing else it makes the business guys smile in a knowing way and rather than harping on and on about technical stuff they don’t get, they may see a small light bulb appear above those rolling eyes.



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