My class teacher once explained that Ego means “Edging God Out”. Even after decades, that expansion is still stuck in memory, not just because I am a sucker for abbreviations, but more so on the meaning it conveyed. In the journey so far in IT industry, one thing that I could find omnipresent is nothing but overinflated megalomania level egos of individuals, that screws up the peace of many. I’ve been at both sides of the table and have not so memorable experiences.
Compared to any other industry, IT is the youngest and most evolving of all. In fact, with so much of process being shoved year after year in the form of maturity models, business driven changes, best practices, lessons learnt et al, it should be the most conformist of all industries. At the same time, its most prone to disruptive changes as well, that shakes the very foundations of established norms. The industry renews itself every decade and the lead time between the shredding of old tech to new is forever under stress. It’s probably the most democratic of all, where in any change, which has good impact on ROI is easily absorbed as the norm and almost everyone toes the line of the industry leaders. Considering such a background, working in IT should be a shoo-in for anyone. But so many of the employees suffer from stress related illness, heart ailments and life expectancy could pretty soon be a major talking point in this industry. For a place, that is built on the foundation of best practices and clear cut processes, why should anyone even struggle begs a soul searching question.
If we turn the clock back to the moment of big bang, to understand the purpose of its very existence – IT was and always will be a support function to business. To put simply, Its necessity is to make things easier for business and reduce the turnaround time in getting things done. The concept was always that, a smart guy teaching a dumb terminal to make monotonous things simpler. With the advent of including “Smart”ness into everything, the ghost in the machine is wide awake, literally and figuratively, shutting down the humanity in people. Off late I find people to be more comfortable dealing with machines than with their own kind. Machines don’t have ego hassles. They never misunderstand the content from its tone or the emotion behind the statement. Emails don’t provoke mail storms when directed to machine monitored mailboxes. In between all these advancements in technology, which is supposed to make the life of end user easier, we’ve lost a critical thing in translation – the empathy for each other.
When there was a raging conflict in one of my teams, I spoke to both the parties individually and asked them to first hear each other out. It was an simple issue blown out of proportion due to the individual ego’s in play and neither were willing to budge. What was surprising was, it should’ve never been an issue in first place and when I suggested that, each of them should respect the other’s decision and should give a patient hearing, it was knocked off as an unfathomable attempt of a solution!! Eventually, the stick won over the carrot. When we can pick up machine learning and AI on the fly, work out complex semantics and syntaxes for evolving programming languages, work wonders with internet of things, we are seriously and severely pegged back on our social skills.
If I’ve to RAG it, it’s fast moving away from Amber to Red.