Home > IT Management, Leadership, Leadership & People, Management > IT Management and Culture (in an Asian context)

IT Management and Culture (in an Asian context)

My blogging has been mostly off recently due to trying to achieve work-life balance by re-prioritizing things, get some vacation time in between projects and upcoming management activities, and figuring out what are the things important to me. Some good cave time to be had is good for the soul and recharging the mind and calming one’s emotions. Getting some inner peace is a good exercise.

Last week, I participated in an IT Forum that a network company sponsored to introduce to their customers and interested IT professionals their new products and services. Additionally, it was a forum for just general sharing amongst IT professionals about common IT issues. I facilitated the second part of it and found it to be great fun and glad I did.

We had a wide ranging group of professionals – technical experts, IT operations folks to very senior ASPAC level IT Directors and CIOs. It was an open sharing format and to get such a diverse group of people to open up was super stuff.

We discussed in hopscotch fashion:

1. Business change – faster and sharper than before?
a. How to manage it? Personally, organizationally? Or just be like a jelly-fish?

2. Cost-savings/Budget reductions –> IT Governance
a. More systems integration, consolidation, legacy consolidation
b. Where are the pressures hitting? infra? apps? security? people? outsourcing?
c. How to manage long term IT needs vs. short-term tactical requirements
d. How to prioritize, what to prioritize?

3. Staff retention / hiring
a. Roles and responsibilities changing
b. Skills sets raised higher?
c. Status of the IT Director?

4. IT innovation – avoid latest & greatest or continue to push for innovation in our IT operations, services, infrastructure, technology to better serve?

From the crowd mood, personally and organizationally, the super fast change of the business and IT environments was creating major stress points. In fact, one of the participants shared that after 20 years, this forced him out and look to do something other than IT. And nearly everyone expressed similar types of this sentiment – the personal difficulty facing today’s IT environment and secretive longing to also leave IT for other pastures.

One very senior IT manager asked the audience whether or not IT managers are treating IT staff well? That’s a brave question to ask and I commend him for asking.*

On this point, I would say that in an Asian context, most managers I see, are not supporting or supportive of IT staff. I believe it is culturally rooted – short term thinking, coupled with a poor view on talent development, and treating people as commodities that can be easily replaced – are fundamental reasons for why quite a few IT people I know in this part of the world are not optimistic in an IT career.

Discouraging yes, but hopefully this can change as economic and business prospects turn around for the better. But, there is a central need IMHO to find a better way to develop IT profesionals, promote greater IT maturity because it’s a key foundation for long term sustained business success. And this for us in Asia is an on-going concern always in an ever-increasing competitive business world.

* Note: I recently was explaining to a promising junior helpdesk talent in my team the criticality of upward communication, especially when news is bad. There’s strong cultural pressure in Asia to not speak up when news is bad. Undertanding this, I countered with this: “If you don’t speak up, then you will keep living in shit. That’s guaranteed. Do you want to keep living in shit every day?” But I said by the same token, “if you do speak up and management doesn’t listen and fix things, then management is shit.” Both needs attention and he and I agreed that it takes two-sides to make the future better so let’s give it a try.

And this fits into today’s Brainy Quote:

Ben Sweetland
“Success is a journey, not a destination.”
Maya Angelou
“Nothing will work unless you do.”

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  1. August 10, 2009 at 12:01 PM

    I’m glad that Arun connected me with your blog. I’m looking forward to learning more about IT Culture and Management in the Asian context. It is definitely an area where I will benefit from your insight. I’ll be following weekly from now on.

  2. August 12, 2009 at 11:04 AM

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for dropping by and reading. I’ll be writing more in the future about IT topics here in Asia.

    Cheers!

  3. August 22, 2009 at 2:09 AM

    I am looking forward to reading more of your posts once you emerge from your cave and after achieving your work-life balance. Sounds like a great post for other who have not struck that balance. Lead the way…

    -Arun

  1. August 5, 2009 at 7:56 PM

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