Where Are Your Technology Blind Spots?
Blind spots are dangerous, and it is when we don’t realize we have blind spots that they are the most dangerous. When we talk about a blind spot in a vehicle, we usually recognize it. When changing lanes, we are extra careful to check our blind spot to ensure there are no cars in the lane we are moving into.
Blind spots in leadership, relationships, and even knowledge are not quite as easy to compensate for. We are often completely unaware of our own deficiency, sometimes leaving bruised feelings, missing important details, or just not leading well.
In the last few months, I’ve heard several stories of people who had blind spots and seemed unaware. These stories have been similar in that they have been of people leading a company or a department. Their communication is consistently terse and demanding, leaving people feeling unappreciated and uncertain of their value to that leader. Sometimes, it is that person’s general manner, and sometimes, it is because they are just running so fast that they are unaware of what is happening around them.
When I encounter a person like this, I often shake my head and ask myself, “How can they operate that way?” And then, with some introspection, I begin to wonder what my blind spots are. Where am I oblivious to the needs of others or unaware that I am leaving a wake of frustration?
MIT professor and writer Junot Diaz said, “We all have a blind spot, and it’s shaped exactly like us.” If we pause to think about it, blind spots exist everywhere. We are often blind to the things closest to us.
It seems that blind spots are even more common when managing technology than they are in leadership. Because technology can be challenging to understand and navigate, sometimes it gets relegated to a cost center or delegated to someone who treats it as an annoyance rather than an opportunity.
The best way to correct our blind spots is to be aware of them.
Here are 5 Common Areas of Technology Management Blindness:
- Reactivity Cataracts. It is common for people to view IT as a reactive game. When we think about IT services, we first think of the help desk, how fast they respond, how well they communicate, and how quickly they solve our issues. However, you will miss the game if your eye is only on the reactive. The only way to get IT consistently running smoothly is to do the proactive IT disciplines that need to happen regularly. These are things like a password policy, log review, eyes-on server review, backup testing, security software, cycle planning, and more. Think of it like an athlete who wants to play, but not practice. They won’t get to play much and will more likely be injured if they don’t spend time conditioning and in the weight room.
- Operational Risk Blurriness. Understanding the likelihood and severity of data-related risks for your business is essential. Often, we either see these risks through the blurred vision of busyness or don’t grasp just how likely a risk is. Risks like falling prey to ransomware are VERY high without precautions like multi-factor authentication, security awareness training, 365 monitoring, and other tools in place. We can also accept risk with a misplaced or non-existent backup strategy that does not address critical data on-premise and in the cloud. It is essential to review the IT and data risks to your organization regularly and ensure they are being addressed appropriately.
- Value Blindness. Becoming value blind is relatively easy, particularly for those with an analytical bent. One of the most basic tenets of good IT management is to replace servers, laptops, and other technology on a 4-to-5-year cycle. It is tempting to ignore this or to let it go longer. However, it is proven that once you move beyond this planned cycle time, the failure rate goes up, and problems result. Value blindness can also take shape in that effort to get the best deal. Everyone likes a good deal, and we sometimes hunt for it, wait for it, research to understand the terms, and suddenly, we have wasted too much time. Value blindness also shows up in buying cheap products in an attempt to get a deal, which results in problems and slowing down the user (the very resource we want to value and keep running efficiently).
- Innovation Loss of Perspective. Many people say, “I’m not much of a technology person.” This is a good admission if you take things to the next step and ensure you either learn what you need to know or find a trusted resource to advise you. Innovation is not an option in business, and charting a course to the next level of technology is the leader’s responsibility. Once you have lost that innovative edge, you may need some help to get it back. Often, it is necessary to chart a course out of the reactive mode you may be in, and then you can begin to plan for innovation and change.
- Lack of Peripheral Vision. As leaders, we can get so caught up in our goals and plans that we forget to look around at the people on our team who often do the work. What do they need to succeed? Sometimes, all that is needed is to listen, and you will find out. And sometimes, a deeper dive is needed. What technology could be applied to make that significantly manual task better? What do people hate the most about their jobs? What is taking an enormous amount of time each week? What is mundane and repetitive? What is creating a high level of stress? Why do we do things the way we do? A deeper look at people’s work will identify areas where technology can produce massive benefits.
Once we know our blind spots, it is time to act. This can take place in many forms. Learn about new technology, establish proactive processes, consult with others like you and learn what they are doing, take a step back and evaluate your risks, and become a student of the people on your team.
And, if you need a partner to help clear up your technology vision, please get in touch with us at CTaccess. We would love to help!
Scott Hirschfeld is the President of CTaccess, a Brookfield IT support company that has been helping businesses stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business since 1990. Under his leadership CTaccess provides the business minded approach of larger IT companies with the personalized touch of the smaller ones. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.