By Mike Herrington
Tiger Woods is an amazing athlete and one of the world’s most decorated golfers. Your IT guy is, well, ahem, less than athletic, perhaps. So what could Tiger Woods and your IT guy possibly have in common? The short answer is that their jobs are more similar than you think.
Race to Zero
The idea that sparked this article is that both golf and IT are really a race to zero. In golf you want to have the lowest possible score. In IT, they’re always chasing zero as well. Zero downtime, zero response time, zero security breaches, etc.
Par Isn’t Impressing
If a golfer makes par, there’s no fame in it. They probably won’t win and nobody’s impressed. If your IT guy simply keeps things running and nothing happens, he rarely gets any credit. The thing most folks don’t understand is that sometimes the course is so difficult that par is almost a miracle. IT can frequently be the same way. There are times that simply keeping things running without disruption is quite a feat.
It’s been said that golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. Anyone that’s picked up a club and tried to hit a straight drive knows what that means. IT is much the same way. From the outside looking in, IT can appear simple. “You can just push a button, right?” Realistically IT can be endlessly complicated. It’s a broad field that can be extremely nuanced.
A Tool for Every Job
Another similarity between IT and golf is that there is a tool for every job. Golfers carefully select the right club for each shot to improve their chances of success. Most folks don’t realize it, but IT professionals have a large selection of tools they use for different tasks to get the desired results.
Golfers seem to get noticed the most when things are going terribly, terribly wrong. There is an expectation that they can achieve par or better all of the time, but every golfer has THOSE days. Sometimes you can’t sink a shot to save your life and your ball ends up in the lake. Funnily enough, those times draw more attention than some of your best rounds of golf. IT pros get noticed more than any other time when things are NOT going right. If the server is down or the hard drive failed, the spotlight is turned squarely on them. It can make for tough work when excellence goes unnoticed and failures are highlighted.
Moral of the Story
The real moral of the story here is to keep calm and love your system administrator. Sometimes the work of others can be more difficult than first glance may intimate. The worst part of IT is that even the most successful IT guys don’t get fame, glory or boatloads of money. They simply get to keep their jobs, and if they’re lucky, their hard work gets noticed and they get promoted.
So the next time you have IT problems, cut your IT guy a break. The next time you notice nothing is wrong, realize that probably means that there is someone hard at work behind the scenes. Maybe even take a minute to stop and say, “Thanks.”
Mike Herrington is the manager of business development at i.t.NOW.