Excellence in IT … a review

Not my usual kind of book… but since I began a new job in IT a few months ago and I just had my first performance appraisal for it last week, I thought this book just came along at a good time. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it very much. The author makes some compelling points that are not very obvious. However, I got told the same things at work as well so I was quite impressed. It is a must read if you’re in IT. If you’re not, then you might want to dip in and out, reading the bits that are relevant to your line of work.

Along with championing the good habits, the author also sets out the most common bad habits. I have had five years of technical education, two years of semi-technical work experience, and only four months in my latest IT role. However, I could easily see examples of the pitfall kind of people in my head. They are easy to spot, and knowing what you’re seeing makes it easier to work with them or work around them. It also makes it easier, as an employee, to recognise early signs of behaviours in oneself and sidestep them. We all like to think that we are doing the very best we can in our day jobs. But sometimes, in fact, most of the time, it is not about what we do; it is about how we do it. More and more organisations are hiring based on people standards rather than technical skills and this is why.

 Some other stellar advice – don’t stop learning, don’t be too cocky, never experiment on production systems, be the good man in a storm, keep your chin up. There is even an entire chapter on Stress Management, and that is probably as relevant in any industry, in any workplace. The book wraps up with how to remain critical and relevant in such a fast-changing environment and what separates a good techie from a bad one.

 The final thing that made me really respect the author – the discussion about the importance of documentation. I refuse to buy the bullshit that techies are bad at it. Some very very lazy techie came up with that. I have met some of the foremost researchers in the world in certain fields (and that includes people like Peter Higgs) and if you do not document, you are plain lazy.

Most useful lines ‘Always remember that competency is your responsibility. Moving forward without competency is, in all fairness, your fault and no one else’s’.

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