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Knowledge or Wisdom?

I have made my living in the IT business for the past 40 years.  I think we might all agree that in the IT business we have seen great minds with deep knowledge create once unimaginable technologies that have altered the course of humanity.

Yes, smart people indeed.  But altering the course of humanity comes with a price.  One price is I get to poke fun at my industry and those smart, IT people:

Conventional IT Wisdom:

Faster hardware doesn’t solve business problems – unless the business problem is slow hardware.

More bandwidth / memory / storage / processing power than you’ll ever need, will last you six months.  A year tops.

IT project advance or die.  Sometimes both.  But if it isn’t advancing it’s dying.

Functionality isn’t the same as usefulness.

The systems that last are the ones you were counting on to be obsolete.

Exactly what you want, always costs more than you can afford.

Data isn’t information.  Information isn’t knowledge.  Knowledge isn’t manageable.

Frank Hayes

There’s that word, “knowledge”.  Our favorite Unknown Sage offers this wisdom:

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

I guess that means when we’re assigning dishes for people to bring to the upcoming office pot luck, we should have IT bring the dessert and not the salad.

Even though I’ve “been in IT” for two score, I haven’t actually interacted much with IT.  I suppose their views about sales people are predictable – and perhaps even understandable and well deserved!  It’s probably because we simply think differently about things.  Back to our Unknown Sage:

A helicopter was flying around above Seattle when an electrical malfunction disabled all its navigation and communications equipment.  With all the clouds and haze, the pilot couldn’t determine his position or how to get to the airport.  But he saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it up.  The sign read, WHERE AM I?

People in the building quickly responded with their own sign, “”YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.

The pilot smiled, waved, looked at hoes map, plotted the course to the airport and landed safely.  On the ground, the co-pilot asked him how their sign helped determine the helicopter’s position.

I knew that had to be the Microsoft building, the pilot said because they gave me a technically correct, but completely useless answer.

And yes, those Microsoft engineers are laughing all the way to the bank.  Wisdom aside, they definitely know how the money works!

Rule 8 – Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer.  This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 11 – Be nice to nerds.  Chances are you’ll end up working for one. 

Bill Gates

Still, there remain some IT professionals that know the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Back to Frank Hayes:

Conventional IT Wisdom:

Free anything… isn’t…

If nobody else is trying something, there’s usually a reason.  Maybe not a good reason, but a reason…

“We’ve never done it that way before” is a more powerful argument than any cost/benefit analysis…

It always takes longer and costs more to do it later.

A good idea is no match for a bad habit.

The hardest problems get solved last. 

I’d call that wisdom!

GAP

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