Another dot in the blogosphere?

What is your legacy?

Posted on: August 6, 2016

My reflection today comes courtesy of a Wired article, Sad Windows XP Machine Spotted at the Las Vegas Airport.

There are personal legacies and there are organisational legacies.

A question that some of us might dare not ponder is: What is your legacy? This is a difficult question because each of us has to ask if we are making a worthwhile difference.

Large organisations should ponder that question, but not just from an existential perspective. What legacy systems and processes are they leaving behind?

The airport highlighted in the Wired article and most large organisations invest in technology that is costly to buy upfront and to maintain thereafter. Rather than move with the times, administrators opt not to change because the immediate need is to balance a budget.

The cost of not upgrading and changing is hard to calculate because it is a projection. It is hard to measure the cost of what-ifs like security breaches, or the shelf life of supported technologies.

This is why so many sites still have the “best viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer version X” or why certain organisations only use certain computers with certain configurations. They are content to let the world go by because they have their heads in the sand.

The common excuses from IT departments are “security” and “good enough”. I have explained how people hide behind security.

“Good enough” is a top-down view of work. It is an outdated attitude that comprises of: 1) we provide for you, 2) we define your work, and 3) be grateful that we provide and define. Oh, and everything else is not as good or as secure.

We provide? How about BYOD like personal laptops, slates, and phones?

We define your work? Can you place such limits in modern work environments?

Be grateful. We are, but we also expect you to be reasonable and current, not stubborn and backward.

Nothing is totally secure, not as long as you let people in. If you think about it, any work is a socio-technical system. We use the tools of language and technology to enable work. The tools might be buggy. The people definitely are.

Administrators and IT departments focus on developing hardware. If you want to be a good leader, focus on nurturing humanware. That is a legacy that perpetuates itself. You can entrench it in fear and close-mindedness, or you can open and empower it.


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