I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.

– W.C. Fields

So I find out from Network World (US)’s Fusion Web site discussion forum that there is little love lost between programmers and network managers. This is news?

Say a programmer finds a cool piece of software that they think will make their life easier or more productive in some way. They either petition the IT powers that be to give them what they want or, by hook or by crook, they sneak that thing in under the radar.

The result, except on rare occasions, is the new thing represents a potential headache for IT. If the programmer’s PC should barf, for example, the new, unapproved component (no matter how small) will have to be considered part of the problem, if not the whole problem. To put that another way, it makes more work for the IT folks responsible for keeping things running.

Or perhaps the new stuff will barf big time and toast the network. Even though the cause will be more or less easily identified, the fact that the stuff hasn’t gone through the full IT approval cycle is enough to make network managers go postal.

At best, the new thing will behave and not cause problems. Unfortunately, that is the exception rather than the rule. The usual result is that network managers wind up with a problem that was foisted on them. It doesn’t matter that the problem is small or large, it is still a problem and it costs time and money and adds complexity to the already amazingly complex task of running a network.

And that really is why network managers are cranky about this topic: Running PCs, networks and supporting systems is a huge task. It leads to long nights wrestling with obscure problems, a lack of sleep worrying about potential problems, and stressful days dealing with all sorts of bizarre and mundane real problems.

Is it surprising then that the folks whose job it is to keep things going are a tense lot who, when faced with anything new, display all the reactionary zeal of an ayatollah being offered break dancing lessons by Madonna?

But it goes beyond programmers. How about the hapless end users who want to bring in something new? Is it surprising that they sometimes perceive the IT group as hostile? In fact, is it surprising that everyone hates IT? And guess what-this is normal!

Consider almost any organization. Every group in the organization hates every other group. Everyone hates accounting because they are so inflexible.

Folks, give accounting a break! You try managing the company accounts for a day and then let’s see where your priorities and prejudices lie. I’ll bet that a percentage of you see accounting as effete clones who speak in tongues and move at a speed that is tectonic.

How about marketing or sales? Do you in IT really respect the sales group? Of course not.

And everyone hates human resources. And of course you hate engineering, services and every other group you might have in your company. The truth is every group in the organization hates every other group with equal enthusiasm.

Network managers need to realize they are not unique-every modern organization has hate and loathing layered into every department’s view of every other department. And IT is a highly visible target. But other departments need to get wise: If you want the best and most efficient network services, you must enroll and engage the network group in your planning.

Once network managers understand the roles of other departments and their drives (the things that make them excel-there’s a basis for rational discussion) the network group can become a big brother, a manager and motivator of people. Of course, like W.C. Fields, the network managers may wind up being free of all prejudices and hating everyone equally anyway.

Gibbs is a contributing editor at Network World (US). He is at [email protected]

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