Monday, October 18, 2010

Not This Leg Either

Late in Season 1 of House MD, House discloses the story behind his limp and his addiction to painkillers... he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his leg, and rather than follow the doctor's advice to amputate the leg, he demanded a different, more risky procedure that involved circumventing the clot with a vein.  House cited an "irrational attachment" to his leg for this illogical stance.

As he was preparing for the surgery, he wrote on his bad leg... "Not This Leg Either."

Two things stood out in this episode to me.  First off, I understand a common caution given to medical students (and doctors, for that matter) is to not self-diagnose nor self-treat whatever affliction you think you have.

Very sage advice, since when you are personally involved, it prejudices your thinking.  Why is it then, that so many IT professionals try to self diagnose when it comes to their environments?  In many cases, those people either caused or contributed to the issues in the environment they are supporting!  As Einstein said, We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Too often I've seen people attack recommendations for rational, low risk improvements simply because they had too much emotional investment in the current design to realize that the suggestions are for the best.  When you're too close to an issue, it becomes easy to fall into "ditch digger's syndrome."

The second thing that resonated with me in that episode was House's admittance that his decision not to amputate was irrational and due to his attachment to his leg.  How many irrational beliefs are holding IT organizations back today?

  • Server Huggers (i.e. "You Can't Virtualize Exchange/SAP/etc") - Actually, quite often, you can.
  • Conversely, Virtualization Huggers (i.e. "You must virtualize everything!") - Ultimately, technical decisions have to come down to what provides the best return to the business on the investment.  Many times, that may be virtualization... but not every time.  Are you sure that your virtualized environments are saving you money?
  • We absolutely need five 9s of availability - Have you actually determined whether or not all systems can justify the infrastructure and cost that five 9s requires?
IT people shouldn't be primarily technology advocates... they should be business advocates that understand how technology can be used to increase the profitability and ability for their business to deliver.  Otherwise, they are just trumpeting whatever the current buzzword that vendors are hyping as the current cure for all the issues in their environment.


John Dias said...

There's also "that's the way we've always done it" view.

Unknown said...

Like the old saying goes: "The lawyer that represents himself has an idiot for a client." Oftentimes our self-interest does not serve our best interest.