Bits and Bytes: An Open Letter of Apology to the CIO

3 min read

Top 10 Violations of a Repentant Ops Guy

Dear I.T. Professionals of My Past,

During the first dozen years of my banking career I was a user… an end-user, an ops guy or leader of ops people.  As your internal client, I had very little appreciation for the nature of your work, the constraints you operated within, didn’t care to educate myself, and should have been a better team player.  Now that I have walked a mile in your shoes working on the tech side of the business, let me say…. mea culpa bro.

Below are the top 10 violations for which I am sorry.  Regrettably, I know I am not alone on these and observe the same behaviors today in even the most respected institutions.

1) I didn’t understand the nature of data but behaved as though I did. 

“If the distance between apples and oranges is greater than the sea’s altitude, then display odd numbered vowels only during the customer journey.  Oh… and make sure my data is big, I need big data.”

2) I rejected every estimate provided in hourly increments as absurd measurements intended to obfuscate and delay getting to my needs.

“170 hours? That’s ridiculous.  I could build this by myself in one month using excel.”

3)       I gave business requirements the middle finger then I gave you the middle finger when you built the thing I asked for.

“I required a complete set of left handed golf clubs – how can I be any clearer?  Of course you should have known to include a squash racket, I’m a member at Bushwood.”

4)       I assumed to know what was a big effort and what was a little effort –and quite confidently, but had written no more code than you had forecasted losses.

“This should be pretty easy for the developer to handle.  All they need to do is….

5) I did not appreciate that you had limited capacity to serve multiple needy internal clients including marketing in the same way that my customers were waiting in a queue to be answered by a limited number of call center associates.

“If it’s not a compliance issue it won’t see the light of day – all we need to do is to get Compliance to call it an issue and it will move up the priority list – sweet.”

6)       I dropped passive-aggressive threats that were unfounded in reality.

“Ok sure.  We can do without that feature for Phase 1… our roll rates are going to melt the polar ice caps but that’s fine… let’s move to the next must-have item on the list.”

7)       I expected you to completely eliminate human error instead of setting a higher bar for my staff.

“You’d be surprised, but I’ve got several employees who can’t remember their name when logging in.  You can automate that right?”

8)       I was captain obvious, schooling you on the need to provide good service and lower credit losses – as if you did not already know that.

“Now Bob.  You’ve got to understand that if our customers have a poor experience on the web site, they might go to our competition – right?”

9)       I made sarcastic remarks about how long it would take for you to get something done.

“We’ve got to log an IT work ticket?  Great… that will get done when the Eagles win the Super Bowl.”

10)   I assumed that the root cause of every production issue was a “testing miss”.

“Come on man! Who did you have testing this thing – let me guess, OFFSHORE?”

So what have I learned?

Every c-suite executive worth their salt is forced to make difficult trade-off decisions – to maximize enterprise value making the most of limited resources; the CIO is no different.  If you think of yourself as a high performing operations executive and a member of a high performing team – you are well served to acquire some understanding of how software, hardware, and data work at the most basic level.  Finally – you have a choice to treat your technology department as a “vendor” or you can treat them as a partner.  You can probably guess which of those behaviors will get that business critical feature you need moved up that never ending priority list.

My bad… it won’t happen again.

Love always,

 

Matt

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