How to Avoid Techie Tunnel Vision

You know you’re a hardcore techie if going to work would be perfect if it weren’t for all the damn users. If the business wasn’t bothering you with requirements then you could finally get your work done!

Such is the techie tunnel vision problem: a focus on technical nuts and bolts to the extent that your priorities become completely skewed. Of course, the only reason you have a job in the first place is because some business stakeholder thinks that you can help address problems the business faces.

Even more seasoned techies who understand this point in principle still frequently succumb to a version of techie tunnel vision we call the “shiny things” problem. Monkeys like shiny things simply because they’re shiny, and techies like new, cool, interesting technology and associated technical approaches simply because they’re new, cool, and interesting. The monkey forgets it should be looking for food, and the techies forget they should be focusing on solutions to problems, not the latest, greatest shiny tech toy.

The shiniest thing in enterprise IT during the ’00s was SOA. Architects in particular got all excited about SOA, and often found themselves trying to convince the business that they should do SOA—without a sufficient understanding of the business problem. Now that we’re in the ’10s, the shiny thing is the Cloud. We gotta do Cloud, so let’s see if we can convince the business that Cloud is the way to go!

The first step to avoiding the shiny things problem is to understand the business problem at hand (hint: it almost always has something to do with money). The second step is to apply your professional expertise to recommend the best approach to solving the business problem that you know of, even if you don’t end up recommending your favorite shiny thing. The Cloud isn’t the best solution to every problem, just as SOA wasn’t. If there’s a quicker, cheaper, or less risky solution, recommend that one instead—even if it’s not shiny at all.

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