Thursday, April 28, 2011

Only you can prevent forest fires!

Most of us have heard or seen the campaign with Smokey Bear saying "Only you can prevent forest fires!"

How does that apply to technology teams?  It is not about animatronics or other techno trickery required to make the bear talk.  It is about a philosophy and organizational maturity.  As IT organizations transform from supporting a small number of users with simple systems to serving a diverse enterprise with complex systems, the team mentality has to change as well.  For many small companies or startups, having a few IT people who can be the jack of all trades is just fine.  They typically are very good at trouble shooting problems (ie putting out fires) and are always looked at as the technology heroes.  These fire fighters don't realize it, but many of them are technology arsonists as well.  Are their intentions malicious? No. They have simply been caught in a perpetual support mode which lacks strategic value for an organization. These fire fighters need to develop new skills to provide more robust and scalable solutions. Solutions that eliminate the fires.  Solutions that can grow and scale with the needs of the organization.  Solutions that add long term value to the enterprise.

As our organization continues to grow and mature, we want to eliminate fires; requiring fewer fire fighters in our organization.  We are transforming our former fire fighters to become Smokey Bears - preventing the fires from ever happening.  To make this transformation we are providing training, putting new processes in place, and upgrading systems to be much more resilient.

Remember, whether in the forest, in the home, or in the office - Only you can prevent forest fires! 

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