Getting to Senior level
This, abiut getting to senior level, is the third of a series of four articles. It traces the rise of the King of Bullshit from a school leaver with no degree to the top of the IT tree.
Read the first two first.
The Next Step to Snior Level
If you have managed to ‘Fast Track’ yourself up the ladder, either from a successful project or a timely exit from it, to a level, say, one step below the IT Director, e.g. the Development Manager (they’ll need their most successful Project Manager passing on his secrets to the others), then you need to start plotting the next stage.
Your main allies here will be the senior users.
It is a fact that, at most companies, they don’t rate the IT Director highly. The other senior managers don’t like him.
They hate the service they get, and the fact that projects are always late and cost too much. They hate that they don’t get exactly what they ask for. Also, they hate that their businesses sometimes grind to a halt because the systems fall over in production.
The IT Director is never suitably penitent either when these things happen.
Because he is technical he always has a reason for the problem happening.
Their suspicions are that he is to blame but they are not technical enough to prove it, so they simply slag him off to each other.
These guys at senior level are your new friends!
And you have a new, great advantage. You are talking to people, for the first time, who know even less about IT than you do.
Go Meet The Users
The first thing to do in your new job as Development Manager is to go around to meet each of the senior level users. Find out what they think the problems are with the IT Department.
Don’t confine them to problems with just the IT Development department that is your remit.
Some of these problems are quite easy to fix – it’s just that no one has asked them before.
Bring these problems to the attention to the team that sits at the next level below you in the IT Development department.
Ask them which problems can be fixed easily, and then go ahead and get them to get it done.
Keep problems to Yourself
Don’t bother passing on the problems that the users told you that they are having to the IT Director or to the other IT Managers at the same level as you are.
When you meet the senior level users again, tell them about the problems that you have fixed for them.
When they ask you about the other problems, just say ‘that’s outside my remit’ with a knowing smile, as if to say “I told them about it but they weren’t interested”.
You now need to keep very closely in touch with these people.
Occasionally they’ll grouch to you about the IT Director or Manager, but you’ll simply say “I can’t make any comment on that” whilst looking like you’d like to.
And you shouldn’t say anything about him – for the moment!
You have to wait till he’s down, and in the meantime keep the business users happy by paying them the attention that they never get from other IT managers.
The Time to Strike
There are always regular crises for IT Managers, so you’ll never have too long to wait. Every time there is a crisis, weaken him slightly each time.
The senior level users will never be able to find out what exactly has gone wrong – but you will.
Every time something goes wrong ask your team the real reason for it.
Sometimes the IT manager will spin the users a yarn knowing that they wouldn’t know one way or another.
By this time you’ll be seeing the senior users often, perhaps even socially.
Of course you’ll tell your manager that it is good for your department, and his as well, that you keep the users sweet.
The users will soon start saying that the IT Director told them that the recent problem X was caused by such and such a reason.
In the beginning just smile knowingly and loyally, as if to show that you know something else – especially if what the IT Director is saying is correct.
After a while though, when you are well in with the Users and have helped to weaken the IT Director, your opportunity will come.
He will tell them something that is not quite correct by way of explanation.
This is your time to strike!
You will tell the senior level Users what really went wrong AND how it could have been prevented (your team will have told you this or you would have heard it on the grapevine).
You will also ask the senior users to keep schtum about it, as it is more than your job is worth.
This will be very frustrating for them. That’s because they’ll know now that not only is their IT Director incompetent, but he is a liar and has probably been lying to them for a long time to cover up for his incompetence. And they can’t do anything about it.
How can such a man stay in charge of their crucial IT department when he has lost their confidence?
Time to Go
The answer is that he can’t.
And they know someone who would make a much better IT Director than the present incumbent.
The King of Bullshit has arrived at senior level.
He has become Numero Uno – without having any great ability beyond bullshit to begin with.
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