Technology is dominated by two types of people; those who understand what they dont manage; and those who manage what they dont understand – ARCHIBALD PUTT ( PUTTS LAW )

Management. IT Management to be precise. One of the most understood ( and misunderstood ) aspects of IT. All sorts of approaches and concepts are found in organizations of all shapes and sizes. Within 5 minutes of being on the IT shop floor you should quickly get a feel for whether Putts Law is being applied.

 Cloud introduces a whole new ball game and will no doubt perpetuate Putts Law for ever more. Why?

Well  unless 100% of IT infrastructure goes up into the clouds ( unlikely for any organization with a history ; likely for a new organization ( probably micro small ) that starts up in the next few years ) the ‘art of IT management’ will demand even more focus and understanding.

I always think a great acid test of Putts Law is to look at one of the two aspects of IT management

1. Show me a simple process that you follow each day that delivers an aspect of IT service i.e. how to buy a piece of IT stuff, or a way to report a fault
2. Show me how you manage a single entity on the network i.e. a file server, a PC, a network switch

Usually the answers ( which will be different from people on the same team, in the same room and from the same person on different days !) will give you an insight to Putts Law. Childs play for most of course who are challenged with some real complex management situations such as data center virtualization projects, storage explosion control, edge device management, backend application upgrades, global messaging migrations and B2C identity integration. But of course if its evidenced that  they seem to be managing (simple things ) without true understanding one could argue ‘how the hell can they be expected to manage what they understand with the complex things?’ Fair point?

Of course many C level people have an answer to Putts Law. Move the problem to people who do understand what they manage. Professionals who provide cloud versions of what the C level person struggles to get a professional service from. These C level guys  see cloud services – applications, data, backup, service desk – as a great way to free up a blockage in how IT service is being delivered on premise. And they are right ( and wrong ).

Right because economies of scale, service quality, consolidation etc will all follow from the cloud decision and improve their customer facing delivery; wrong because without making sure they understand what is really going to happen to how IT will be managed in the future they will compound the problem.

What do I mean? Hybrid cloud. The most likely outcome for traditional IT versus Cloud IT is the Hybrid Cloud – where applications and services exist in two places with the possiblity of integration necessary between the two environments i.e authentication, capacity, business continuity, SLA management, service KPIs, device controls, licensing, backup. The whole ITSM piece really.

Now you see why I would ask those two simple questions. Because the answers in a hybrid cloud environment will change and if the replies highlight they dont understand what they manage today then there is zero chance they will understand what they manage when it resides in two places. You see the psyhci of the person answering the question is that they believe passionately that they do understand what they manage because they have been doing IT for decades. They are professionals. They have track record. There is nothing they havent seen before. They are like surgeons, lawyers, accountants. Professionals who adapt and react whilst staying in control and protecting their worth.

let me tell you something you aready know. It is these people who are probably masking their lack of understanding about what they manage and are the people who need to be pushed through more questions and checks and balances when discussing cloud.

The people i like? Are the ones who hold their hands up and say ‘do you know, Im not 100% sure of how to manage a number of aspects of IT today and I realise that moving to the cloud will change how I need to manage them in the future and I am going to need help to understand the impact on me, my team and my infrastructure’. Give me these guys any day.

Does this only apply to certain sectors of our industry? Do FInance IT really understand what they do or dont understand and therefore how they can develop their manageemnt techniques? Will moving to the cloud be a logical step in the management curve that is totally understood and managed? One could argue they do because of regulation and compliance. What about retail? Again probably they do also because of competitiveness in the high street or digitial shopping mall where downtime and loss of service is tantamount to business suicide. What about public sector or production? Or construction? Or legal? Maybe there are occasions where Putts Law is alive and well albeit ingrained in folklore, undocumented procedures, heroic endeavour and ‘its Ok we always have a backup’ characteristics.

So my advice to anyone interested in cloud penetration and best fit for an organization is this. Give yourself 5 minutes with a few well aimed questions around ‘simple things’ to gauge how much people understand what they do or dont manage. It may save you a lot of time and give you the best approach to helping both them and yourself.

 ( Quote attributed to Archibald Putt  author of Putt’s Law and the Successful Technocrat: How to Win in the Information Age )



3 thoughts on “Technology is dominated by two types of people; those who understand what they dont manage; and those who manage what they dont understand – ARCHIBALD PUTT ( PUTTS LAW )

  1. rowan says:

    IMHO there is a big difference between management of IT and management of IT service. Rarely do you get people who can do both. Understanding inventory, disk space, security etc is one thing; but understanding the performance of apps and user impact is another ball game. Putts Law is alive and well in my organisation. TGIF.

    Rowan in Belfast.

  2. A J Rangarajan says:

    if the application is doing lots of computation but has little data to process then this is a winning strategy for cloiud computing.But if it is vice versa and you spend more time uploading data than procesing it, you would probably do this inhouse.

    A J Rangarajan

  3. stephen777 says:

    Rowan is right…I used to be an IT Manager but now my title is Service Delivery Manager. Why? Because we had a new CTO who changed how people saw what we did. I ve been doing this new role for 5 years and I really do understand what i dont manage. LOL


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