The Law of Attraction
September 8, 2008 Doug Mewmaw
This year, I was introduced to a concept called the law of attraction. For those who have never heard of the LOA, my laymen’s interpretation of the concept is the following: Based on the science of quantum physics, the law of attraction explains how everything in our universe is made up of energy. The net affect of this energy is that every person has the ability to manifest things into their lives based on the negative or positive energy they project.
While the concept boggles my mind, I love the idea that I can manifest success simply by putting myself in a positive mindset. I also remember my parents drilling into me that my success in life will be driven by numerous factors. The factors were simple: work ethic, study hard, and put myself in an environment where I have the best chance to succeed.
With the risk of combining apples and oranges, I’m taking the liberty of combing the two concepts. That is, when I look at my life, I can see correlation to the successes and failures in my life. In my successful endeavors, I was not only in a very positive mindset, but I was surrounded by people that helped changed my life for the better. However, when I failed at things, I not only was in a negative mindset, but looking back, I can honestly say I was not in a good environment to succeed.
Mmm. . . . Hold that thought as introduce three conversations I had with recently inside our IT arena.
Conversation 1: Nashville, Tennessee, COMMON 2008
Conversation 1 Setup: An application manager walks into our booth wanting to know what our product does. The conversation goes something like this:
Customer 1: So what does your product do?
Me: Our product helps IT organizations understand what’s really occurring on their systems.
Customer 1: I’m an application manager. (Customer 1 now looks like in he’s in hell and is mad that there is no free stuff in our booth. . . . )
Me: When your teams are creating or changing programs, wouldn’t you like a simple way to ensure the changes are not causing pain on your core product systems? In other words, to give you and the CIO peace of mind that your team is not affecting service levels negatively?
Customer 1: No, I would not.
At that moment, I felt like the AFLAC duck as I stood there with my mouth wide open–speechless.
Conversation 2: Charlotte, North Carolina, Training Class at a Fortune 500 Company
Conversation 2 Set Up: An application programmer and I are talking at the company cafeteria during lunch.
Customer 2: I saw a bug in one of our vital applications.
Me: Really? What did you do?
Customer 2: [Laughing] Nothing.
Customer 2: Because the change would take me five minutes to fix and the paperwork would be take me three days. It’s not worth my time and effort.
Conversation 3: Boulder, Colorado, Midrange Performance Group Headquarters
Conversation 3 Set Up: A customer wanted to give us some feedback. They measured all the critical performance metrics using our Management Summary Report. This customer has 76 production systems.
Me: I hope the monthly script saved you a little time.
Customer 3: [Laughing] Are you kidding? In our old environment, our monthly report process took 80 man hours. The new process takes only four hours.
Me: Oh my God–what is that? Hey, that’s a 95 percent efficiency improvement!
Customer 3: Wow, I guess it is. For the record, that automated process saves our company $127,000 a year. My boss likes that I can now work on more strategic projects.
I like to tell it like it is. Here is my analysis of these three conversations.
Conversation 1: Application Manager Not Caring About His Team’s Quality of Work
The feedback I get from lot of associates in the trenches is that management expects the world, but very often is not willing to go the extra mile for the associate. In this example, the manager fails to look at the bigger picture. Instead of giving his team the best chance to succeed (the right tools, education, and so forth), he chooses to stay with the status quo. I think what disturbs me more is the manager truly didn’t seem to care. I would be willing to bet his negative energy is shared by his team.
In this example, management fails horribly.
Conversation 2: Application Programmer Not Choosing To Fix A Broken Program
This one really bothers me. In 2006, I wrote an article for this newsletter called Why American Employees Are So Unhappy, and I pointed out how the corporate world had promoted a culture of risk avoidance over a culture that embraces process improvement. The above conversation points out that the IT culture is still in trouble. A five-minute change should not have so much red tape attached to it that it creates a “not worth it” attitude. That’s crazy.
In another example, a systems programmer wanted to change the collection services interval so that his team could do problem determination on their production system more efficiently. The change was a 30-second change, and the risk was minuscule at best. However, the systems programmer could do nothing until a change control was approved, a process that took an entire day. Even when trying to be in a risk avoidance culture, the company actually put its production environment in a more vulnerable position. In the old days (no laughing), when the system was in trouble, management expected associates to do simple tasks because it was the right thing to do. Today, a change control is attached to all processes. Not only is that crazy, it’s just wrong. The change control process should not be so cumbersome that it creates a culture where associates fail to do what’s right.
This negative culture is so infectious that it’s easy to see why so many IT people choose to not go the extra mile any longer.
But with that all said, I think my colleague fails here. Yes, we all hate Sarbanes Oxley and wish for the old days, but maybe we associates in the trenches can challenge management with a better idea…to create a process that allows simple changes to be done more efficiently. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know this: Not doing the right thing is the bigger wrong.
Conversation 3: Systems Programmer Makes A Process Improvement On His Own
This one gives me hope. This IT colleague sold his management on a tool to help the company manage his production system more efficiently. He then took it to the next level and did process improvement on his own. That’s ingenuity at its best.
So think about these three conversations. Do any of them sound like you? Are you trying to make a difference in your position or are you just going through the motions? If you are managing people, are you putting your team in the best position to succeed?
Managers: Put positive energy into your team. Create a culture where your team is excited to come to work. Listen to your team. If they don’t sound excited, they’re not. Create a culture where your folks can do their job efficiently. (Tools, education, processes, and so forth.)
IT Colleagues: Take ownership of your attitude and work ethic. Be creative and challenge your bosses that things can be done more efficiently. Never ignore problems.
Everyone: Whether it’s life at home or work at the office, one thing is for sure: When one has the right environment, the right attitude to succeed, and a vision to know they can make a difference, amazing things can happen.
Doug Mewmaw is a “jack of all trades” IT veteran who currently is director of education and analysis at Midrange Performance Group, an i business partner that specializes in performance management and capacity planning.