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Writing policies with an attitude Wed 27 May 09

The_Law_smlpcouk I received an email the other day that was offering to sell me pre-written IT policies to use rather than writing them from scratch.  Using a template may be a good way to develop policies as long you review them carefully and adjust them for your particular situation.

But I'm not writing about policies.   Although I think we in IT sometimes have too many policies for the wrong reasons I'm really all in favor of them and I also support the idea of enforcing them.  With that behind us I wanted to point out what really got me about the way this particular company decided to market their product to IT people.

The email read:

"I enclose details of our report on the top 50 IT policies.   

Looking to lay down the law? Don't write your IT policies from scratch - use

Looking to lay down the law?  Now there's a phrase that really says a lot about how they think IT people operate.  They could have said things like:

  • Looking to write policies to protect your companies valuable assets?, or
  • Looking to write policies to lower your costs while improving services? or   
  • Looking to write policies to protect company data and intellectual property? 

Instead they in effect decided to say "Looking to implement policies in a heavy handed way that ticks off your user community?"  The sad thing is that apparently this marketing approach works for them.

As I said before I don't have an issue with policies.  My issue is the way we in IT are perceived.  Being service oriented doesn't mean you don't have policies and it doesn't mean you don't*enforce them.  It does mean that you explain to people why policies are necessary and you work with them to comply.  A "do it my way or else" is the last option, not the first.

Maybe this is just a case of someone falling into old stereotypes of IT people.  I hope so.  However, I've still seen plenty of this attitude out there in IT, too much to think it is a completely unfair characterization.  The good news is I think this is changing as IT gets more involved with the business and isn't just the "geeks in the back room".  We are getting better at working with and for our users and that's a very good thing.

Well that's my rant.  Do you think IT still has an "Looking to lay down the law" attitude?  What do you do to change this?  Please share your thoughts.

[* Update May 29, 2009 - Oops left a critical "don't" out of the original sorry for the confusion]

"The Law" photo by smlp.co.uk

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