Evolution not revolution

What is this IT obsession with revolution? Revolution is destructive, counterproductive, the source of much pain. The destruction which evolutions wreak can set communities back by decades. Revolution is to be avoided at all costs. The intelligent and civilised way to move forward is evolution: building on the work of others, retaining value and knowledge, growing, changing incrementally.

I'm sick of hearing about how we should dump thirty years of ITSM wisdom. No we can't just ban SLAs. No we aren't in a new era of customer service. No we shouldn't abandon ITIL. No social media or personal computing don't nullify all the rules.

It is not just the ITSM community howling at the barricades; it is rife all across IT. Vendors and analysts have been playing this game for the quarter century I have been in this industry and we still continue to fall for it: the vendors convince people to throw away what they have and buy new stuff; and the analysts suckle at the teat of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

And it is bullshit. If the PC was revolutionary why do we still have so many mainframes? If the internet was revolutionary why do we still have shops? These things are evolution not revolution. They add layers to our lives. Sure they displace some of what came before but not all. This is addition not replacement.

There are several factors at play here

  • We are addicted to novelty: we have had so much extreme change in our industry that we have become habituated, hooked on the need for change Tweet this
  • A related factor is our love of toys, anything shiny
  • As IT people we love problems, we thrill to challenges, we revel in bad news
  • I can't help thinking that some of our more sociopathic community members love revolution because they love to destroy the work of others

I think it is healthy to challenge - this blog proves that. I think it is unhealthy when false ideas become orthodoxy, and I see a few false ideas becoming embedded in IT

  • ITSM is old crap that causes bad customer service
  • Customer community is a new idea
  • The users are going to support themselves
  • The Crowd or Commons is wise, even in small communities
  • Most customer service is done really badly
  • Most people in service management or IT or business don't care about their fellow humans

The irony is that those driving these ideas do so because they want to destroy dogma and yet they are creating what I am going to call the New IT Age dogma. And it is just as hippy-dippy and devoid of rational thought or science as all of the New Age concepts.

The hippy analogy works for me. Reject orthodoxy, challenge authority (and wisdom), let it go, loosen up man, peace love dope and brown rice will change the world. Yeah right.

New Age thinking gave us teen pregnancy and alternative medicine and razor blades under pyramids. New IT Age thinking gave us the dotcom e-comm bubble and BYOD.

Rejecting any body of knowledge because human frailty results in failures of execution - whether it be ITSM, economics, or Islam - is just dumb. If you see further it is because you stand on the shoulders of giants, not kick them in the teeth.

There's no New IT Age. Now can we please stop burning down the library and torching cars and get back to improving what we do? For the sake of our customers.

see also:
Transformational technologies are a small view
Every Cloud has a silver bullet to kill the dreaded ITIL

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