mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, February 22, 2008

building for the future vs. putting out fires...

Back when I was in the MBA program, one of my classes had us reading the book "the 7 habits of highly effective people". It's got some good advice in it, even if it's somewhat preachy and annoying at times. But one of the things that struck me was at one point the author talks about how to manage time, and says that effective people make sure they dedicate less time to putting out fires and more time to dealing with long-term projects and looking at the big picture.

When we discussed the book in class, my question to the professor was "well, what if your job is pretty much putting out fires?". I don't remember his answer, which suggests I didn't find it terribly useful.

I was reminded of this again yesterday. We had a divisionwide event at work yesterday morning. Pluses- free waffles and bacon. Drawback - having to catch up on 4 hours of work afterwords. Our CIO was at our table, and we discussed what projects and accomplishments we had made during the year. When she came to me, I had nothing to say.

This isn't to say that I don't do anything all day but browse I only do that for part of the day. The thing about doing desktop support is that we don't really do projects. We put out fires. We respond to problems on an individual level - my computer won't start up, it's running slow, I can't print. We don't roll out new systems like our system development people, we don't upgrade all the switches on campus like our network guys. We don't even do migrations on a big scale like we used to - now we generally replace machines one at a time, as they fail or as we have the money. The closest things to "projects" have been moving equipment or ordering new equipment when departments have moved, but it's hard to compare that to a real project.

Which makes it hard to figure out where I fit in in the grand scheme of things, or if there is any place for me to go in the future. We've been putting a lot of emphasis on project management for our organization - which makes me feel like I'm not really going anywhere, since I lack both experience in the area and much need for involvement in it given my current role and responsibility, which is primarily fighting fires. Sometimes I feel like I should be doing more, career-wise - I mean, I do have an MBA, although the voice in the back of my head that's quick to point out my faults usually reminds me that so do a lot of people in my department, and besides, it's not like it's an MBA from a real school like Harvard or Penn. I hate that voice.


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