"Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand."as well as "Putt's Corollary":
"Every technical hierarchy, in time, develops a competence inversion."Basically, this law states that those in a hierarchy, in most cases a working office environment, who work directly with the technology (think data enterers) will be the most technologically competent, while those who are less techno-savvy move up into management. If you work in administration, I'm sure you will agree that this is common.
I'd also like to share three other well known principles, while originally humorous in nature (you can read their history at Wikipedia), also seem to ring true amongst many of my fellow admin friends and cohorts.
- Peter Principle: "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."
- Parkinson's Law: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
- Dilbert Principle: "companies tend to systematically promote their least-competent employees to management (generally middle management), in order to limit the amount of damage they are capable of doing."
I think these 'principles' are interesting because they illustrate the collective knowledge that exists amongst administrative employees of a lower-level rank all across the world: all types of workers from different industries, countries, and cultures will chuckle and agree that there is universal truth to these statements.
Certainly I don't agree that these principles apply to everyone- I've personally had some wonderful managers in my day that are technically adept as well as perfectly competent.
But I've also had supervisors that ask me to send emails for them, or who can't fix a copier jam and will wait until I return from vacation. My friend over at Office Park Idiocracy (see links) shares her hilarious tales of miscommunication, micromanagers, and more at her blog.
No doubt about it, there's a common disconnection between the upper levels of management and their employees, particularly when it comes to technology. It can be frustrating and time consuming for lower level employees to take time out of their work day to train or assist other coworkers on newer technologies. Many companies now offer training to employees on technology, but it is not always mandatory. Why would a manager go to training when they have staff in their office that can do something for them? The motivation often just isn't there. I think, though, that it is important that all members of a team be trained equally in the technologies that are needed for their jobs so as not to place the burden on the more technically advanced members.
All this got me thinking about a book I read this winter for another course, "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. Pink discusses the innate differences between left brained and right brained thinkers: logico-rational for the left, emotional, big picture thinkers for the right. Often technology just doesn't come easy for some, but they are good at looking at the big picture, so they get promoted to upper level, big picture level jobs. But then they lose touch with the left brainers down below who are crunching the numbers. Ideally, we should look for managers that are right in the middle: who can see the big pictures, but can also understand the intricate details of the work their employees are doing on a daily basis, often with all sorts of new technologies.
What do you think? Do these 'principles' ring true? Have you ever been in a position where you were leaned on for your techno expertise and was it a drain on your productivity? Comments!
(Thanks to Wikipedia for all my research!)