Stanford Professor Bob Sutton recently wrote a book with the catchy title "The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't" This book deals with a problem that seems to be growing uncontrolled in the corporate world - a**holes in the workplace. See Kent Blumberg's excellent review for more detail. In addition to the book Sutton discusses this issue on his blog Work Matters.
Like it or not this is an issue applicable to our IT departments. After all IT does have a reputation with a certain a**hole quality about it. For example:
- we tolerate those uber-geek techno experts that are judged too valuable to get rid of despite being a**holes (Sutton's book really applies here)
- the snide IT attitude
- Saturday Night Live's Nick Burns: Your Company's Computer Guy
- Why IT Sucks
- Staples 'Sup Chumps TV commercial
On his blog Sutton provides a quick 24 question A**hole Rating Self-Exam (ARSE) - Are you a certified a**hole? This got me to thinking. Why not a test of a**holiness for IT? So I've developed my version of a test of for the IT department -- IT A**hole or IT Hero? I did this on a departmental basis since that is the way we are usually judged, fair or not. You may also think this to be unscientific, arbitrary, capricious and subjective. Well you're right. It absolutely is, but you have to start some place. So take the test and let me know what you think. If your not in IT take the test on behalf of your IT department and send them results. Who knows what fun that will start?
So on to the test.
- New employees have a completely setup PC waiting for them when they arrive on their first day on the job. [add 1 point]
- When developing new systems your Business Analysts and/or developers will "shadow" employees to learn how they do their job. [add 1 point]
- You periodically survey your customers to see how you are doing and take action to improve your operations based on the results of these surveys [add 1 point]
- Your Help Desk is staffed with real live human beings rather than being a web site. [add 1 point]
- Your Help Desk staffed with real live human beings is staffed for 12 or more hours per day [add an additional 1 point]
- Your Help Desk staffed with real live human beings is staffed 24/7/365 [add an additional 1 point]
- IT folks regularly attend the staff meetings of the functional and business groups e.g. Accounting and Operations [add 1 point]
- Your Business Analysts and some of your technical support people are co-located with the the groups they support rather than in the IT department. [add 1 point]
- The IT staff routinely explain things in plain terms without a lot of acronyms and technical jargon. [add 1 point]
- You focus more on adding value to your customers rather than just reducing computing costs. [add 1 point]
- You impose a storage limits on email inboxes or server shared folders etc. [subtract 1 point]
- Your first reaction to new technology is that you need to limit its use because it might be a security risk. [subtract 1 point]
- You have warning messages on the signon screens about using the computer and/or systems for authorized purposes only with threats of disciplinary actions [subtract 1 point]
- You block employee access to web email sites that prevent them from getting their personal email. [subtract 1 point]
- You block Internet access to sites that while they may not be offensive you deem to be non-business related e.g. sports sites. [subtract 1 point]
- Employees can not add software to their PCs without IT approval [subtract 1 point]
- Employees can not change their web browser home page. It is locked to the company intranet. [subtract 1 point]
- You take the system down during working hours for non-emergency maintenance because that is the most convenient time to do it. [subtract 1 point]
- Your willing to tolerate asshole behavior by certain of your IT people if they are truly experts. They're too valuable to get rid of. Your customer just have to tolerate it as a price for service. [subtract 1 point]
- You believe most of the complaints about slow response time are overblown. You timed a sample transaction and the response time seems acceptable to you. [subtract 1 point]
Now for the scoring
+7 to +10 Your customers love you. Your customers sing your praises. You're an IT Hero!
+4 to +6 You've got potential. Your customers are generally pleased with your work
+1 to +3 Customers view you as doing more good than harm - usually.
Zero - Your customers neither love nor hate you. Are you sure that they know you even exist?
-1 to -3 Your viewed more as a hindrance than a help. People are annoyed that they have to work with you.
-4 to -6 Your borderline and in danger of sliding into "A**holedom". Don't be surprised if they "forget" to invite you to the company picnic but they extend a special invite to their "shadow IT" group.
-7 to -10 Your the department everyone loves to hate. Sad to say but you're an IT A**hole!
How did you do? What questions should I add to the test?
[Update 7/12/07 - corrected the "snide IT attitude" link]
[Update 9/26/07 - added **'s in the word A**hole since some web filtering package appear to block my site due to the real spelling]
"Students taking a computerized exam" photo by Extra Ketchup
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