I’m a private contractor, and I work as a consultant in various enterprises for short to mid-term contracts. They usually last for a 6 to 18 month period, and are usually to realize the conception, design, and installation of new technology or integration of different networks (i.e. the merger of 2 companies). This also means that every year or so, I totally change environments, coworkers, business processes, etc.
One of the many challenges I’m facing is the resistance to change, because – let’s face it – we humans hate changes. We would like it, if it were possible, to live in the same environment forever once we feel secure and in control. Unfortunately, it is uncommon to have that luxury. Everyday in IT, there is a shiny new gizmo that promises to relieve network administrators from their pain. Change is inevitable and in fact, part of everyday life. It is what makes our job challenging and not routine, as there is always something new to learn.
In my current assignment, I’m facing many challenges as the network infrastructure is old and undocumented. Plus, it has been underfunded for so many years that I’m impressed by how the telecom team managed to face the many issues that the business deals with just to continue their operations.
There is a project to finally update the whole telecom infrastructure, and I’m amazed to see how hard it is to get the staff on board. The project consists of several big tasks:
- Replacing and upgrading the routing and switching infrastructure, firewalls, VPN concentrators and proxies across the whole enterprise.
- Implementing OSPF, as they are currently using RIP.
- Segmenting the network and implementing proper VLAN segmentation.
- Getting the network ready for VoIP and WLAN.
- Implementing new monitoring software.
It is most likely the biggest project the telecom team has faced in the last 10 years.
I would have thought that the internal telecom staff would jump on the opportunity to improve their network, ease their management burden, and reduce the support load, but it is the complete opposite. There is little enthusiasm. Simply getting information about how the proxies are configured, what the rule set on the existing firewalls looks like, or how VPN access is managed is a challenge. Decommissioning equipment becomes an endeavour.
What could explain this resistance?
- Maybe the staff perceives that keeping the old, undocumented infrastructure is job security.
- There’s doubt that the project will be fully delivered, similar to other IT project failures.
- Perhaps they are comfortable with the current environment with no interest in learning something new.
- There could be concern that personal compensation will be lost due to less after hours support.
- “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” syndrome.
Maybe the answer is found in one or more of the above. So in your enterprise, are you a change enabler or not? And what are the reasons why you are one or the other?
I believe that we change for the better, and that learning new technology is a part of our industry. Yes, it is challenging and keeps us out of our comfort zone, but at the end of the day – when we finally master something new – there is great satisfaction.
Keep in mind this quote from Henry Ford: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” I hope you will stay young for as long as you live.