Metathesiophobia in IT

I don’t even know how to pronounce, but I sure have lived affected by it. Metathesiophobia. I don’t even know for sure how many syllables it has, but I think its 8.  I could have simply said “Fear of Change in IT”, but that wouldn’t describe what I am going to share as accurately.  That almost makes it sound like an excusable and realistic attribute to exist in your IT department.  I wanted to capture the word that ended in “phobia” because it implies the nature of the fear is not justifiable.

That is how I feel about the fear of change in IT.  It can’t exist or you will ultimately be holding back your entire company.  In modern day companies, innovation departments are popping up very rapidly.  There is one thing these departments cannot get enough of.  Can you guess it?  Well, Red Bull was a very good choice, but that’s not it. They are desperate for IT!  Without IT resources, an innovation department isn’t going to get very far.

There are a lot of reasons that people in IT come up with for why change is bad, I’m going to name a few of them.

  • Our users aren’t capable
  • Its Friday and I fear for my weekend
  • Upgrading doesn’t gain us anything new
  • It’s not hurting us, so what’s wrong with leaving it the way it is
  • It threatens my ownership of a particular system or process
  • My technical skills are not advanced enough to understand a more modernized approach

Do you recognize people who think like this?  There is no better way to strangle an entire department then by allowing people asking these questions to drive decisions. Do these questions make you feel as though they are in the best interest of the company?  Are these ideas helpful in creating opportunities for growth?  It’s easy to end up with so many systems that lack modern day features only because you never saw enough tangible benefit in re-thinking and upgrading them.

Maybe asking the questions above help to keep your environment stable for now.  But you are defining the foundation that the future department is going to be resting on.  And if you don’t fix the crack in the foundation before water starts leaking through, then it is going to be a lot harder to fix once it does.  And more urgent.  And more damaging.

How do you deal with people who are the change killers in IT?  Well, the best thing to do is get rid of them.  Not saying the company should fire them.  I am all for working towards a constant refining of a persons position to make it fit their strengths.  If they are not allowing innovation in IT, then finding a new role for them in the company is likely the best option.  I have not, in my experience, encountered people in IT who were change killers ever develop into change supporters.  Want to know if someone is a good fit for IT? Find the person who is constantly trying to change and modernize things. Furthermore their suggestions should show a drive for new and innovative solutions derived from calculated benefits.  Their ideas should show they are able to adapt to evolving IT trends.

If you want to encourage change, then you need to encourage the ones who push for it to lead it. Let them have control of things that others are leaving stagnant. Give them bonuses for implementing ideas that strengthen the foundation. Let the others, the ones who are grumbling about this person and calling them “Maverick”, see that you are supporting this drive.

I was recently employed at a very innovative company.  They maintained a view point that someone from IT should be present in any meeting that was discussing a new process, product or idea.  Without IT, they felt they would lack one of the best viewpoints available to take an idea from good to great.

An IT department that fails its job of serving company innovation is an IT department that fails its company as a whole.  Don’t let the wrong voices drive your decisions.  You know which voices they are because they usually start their sentences with “We have always done…” or “It’s been that way since…” or ‘That’s just how we do it…”

Your IT department should not drown, tied to a rock that says Metathesiophobia. What a sad, sad ending that would be.

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