about this column.
January 25, 2002
Driving or driven?
© 2002, Douglas E. Welch
When you go to work each day, whether for a large corporation, a small company or as an independent consultant, you have to decide how you are going to approach the technology decisions you will face. Do you feel like you are constantly trying to keep up with all the new technology available or are you in control of this information and making well-informed decisions that help support your company and your high-tech career?Stated more simply, are your driving technology choices or being driven by them?
Too often in your high-tech career you are going to find yourself being driven ? driven by management, driven by computer users, driven by computer manufacturers. Everyone will be pushing for their own personal agenda regardless of your guidance or wishes. If you are not on top of technology issues, you will find yourself being pushed from crisis to crisis with little time to think clearly about decisions that can deeply affect your company and your career.
As you might imagine, this is a dangerous position in which to be placed. Any bad decision can hamper your career. Management cares little about the pressures you are feeling, especially if they are the cause. You can protect yourself somewhat against these pressures by keeping your technology knowledge as current as possible.
Your most important tool in dealing with technology pressure is to be aware of new innovations in technology and new releases of existing technology. Staying on top of this information will allow you to be ready for users and management when they come calling. This knowledge allows you to research benefits and flaws of the new technology and perhaps even start developing plans for its implementation.
It is important to remember that your job isnt to prevent new technologies from being used in your company, but choosing the best technologies and developing a plan to implement them. You dont want to be seen as an obstructionist, more skilled at saying "No" than implementing technology, but you also dont want to allow others to drive you into making bad technology decisions. Being aware of the state of technology and building your arguments for and against will allow you to address issues calmly and intelligently when they arise.
Where to turn
One the best places to turn for the information you need is the Internet. As new technologies are released the beta testers and early adopters should be your guide. Their experiences will give you information on developing your own plan while also providing real-world information that you can pass on to your management. Often, having a list of known bugs and issues at hand can do well to temper even the most driving executive. It can also be useful in sending the message of "not now" instead of "no." It shows that you are aware of these technologies and already developing a plan on how to implement them, if they truly benefit the company.
You can also use this information to help your management and users develop a sense of technology as a benefit the company and not an end in itself. If people see that you are aware of new technologies and developing a method for reviewing and implementing them they will be less inclined to pressure you. "No news" is definitely not "good news" when it comes to technology. Keeping everyone informed goes a long way towards keeping the pressure at a minimum. Most of us are very well informed about the state of the technology industry, but sometimes, in the haste of trying to get everything done, we forget to let others know. This failure to communicate can leave others wondering if we are paying attention. Somehow, just knowing you are aware of technology issues can help to put their minds at rest.
Most high-tech workers feel a level of pressure from their managers and their users, but with a little creativity and not much more work, you can help them allow you to drive the technology train instead of everyone trying to take the controls. Drive the technology use in your company, dont let it, or your users, drive you.
about this column.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/
He can reached via email at email@example.com
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