Stories by Peter de Jager

Re-evaluating your replacement strategy

When do you upgrade your technology? Regardless of the type of technology you're using, from US$10 hammers to multi-million dollar CRM systems, that's an important question. The potentially costly answer means that almost any all-encompassing bureaucratic rule such as, "We upgrade one-third of our PCs every year" is a dereliction of management responsibility.

Communication skills, or language discrimination

TORONTO (04/02/2004) - Step into a taxi in a major Canadian city, and there's a good chance the person behind the wheel has a higher level of education than you do. I've been driven around by doctors, engineers, lawyers and programmers. Even though they come from diverse backgrounds, I've noticed two common threads in their tragic stories.

Utility, umpires and upgrades

When do you upgrade your technology? Regardless of the type of technology you're using, from $10 hammers to multimillion-dollar CRM systems, that's an important question.

Plan to fail today

If you don't occasionally experience failure, you're not trying hard enough. That's what you might call "contrary" advice; it's certainly not what they taught us at school. Mistakes and failure generated scrawling red marks on your homework, and too many errors could keep you from getting to the next class.

The magpies of progress

Magpies are fascinating birds; in addition to beautiful plumage, they possess an instinctual behaviour pattern common to most self-respecting technologists. They scavenge shiny and bright objects from the landscape and pile them in a heap to gather dust in the dark corners of their nests. Sound familiar?

Overqualified shouldn't mean disqualified

IT managers email me that they cannot find skilled people, and skilled people email me that they cannot find work. This almost humorous contradiction is worthy of some examination.

Loss of association

In nearly every industry there's a growing and disturbing trend. The lack of time, dwindling resources and a growing desire to protect personal time from the incursion of business are all conspiring to bring about the demise of the professional association. Membership numbers, conference attendance and willingness to participate on boards and in meetings are all on the decline.

Now's the time to plan for IM

According to John Caudwell, head of UK mobile phone retailer Phones 4U, he banned inter-office email from his company and reaped an immediate productivity increase of three hours a day per employee.

Zen and the art of saying forget it

Most IT departments are organised as service departments serving all or part of the organisation. While the charge-back budgeting structure is arguably the easiest to manage from the IT side, most organisations shy away from it for political reasons.

Geographical ambivalence

The internet continues to generate unexpected consequences. The ability to send information anywhere, immediately, at minimal cost, means most white collar work is now geographically ambivalent.

Striking a balance in the corporate zoo

Zookeepers have an interesting problem. Their job is to house animals in a captive, static environment while maintaining both their physical and mental health.

Back to change -- dealing with resistance

A number of readers sent me their thoughts in response to my recent column, No one fears change. Most agreed with the concepts I put forward, but there were requests for more specifics. One reader in particular posed the following situation.

Managers need to get involved

If you work for a living, then part of what you do is solve problems. These problems might consist of people or things; they might range from office politics, to printers that refuse to print and LANS that just won’t LAN. In any case you get paid to fix them.

Find out what's really going on

If you don’t know what’s really going on, then every attempt to fix a problem will only dig the hole deeper and steeper. That insight was reinforced as I watched a flight attendant follow a simple rule, blindly without thought, while landing recently at Pearson International Airport.