Why Don't IT Departments Give Employees More Freedom?
By Gary Hamel
Do you feel hamstrung by your company's IT policies? Are the IT tools you have at home more up-to-date than ones you're forced to use at work? And do you regard this as absurd? If so, you're not alone.
Nick Wingfield has dared to ask why the average corporate IT department should function like a totalitarian state. And boy-oh-boy does he have a point.
How is it that companies are willing to trust employees with their customers, their expensive equipment, and their cash, but are unwilling to trust them when it comes to using the Web at work or loading their own programs onto their workplace PC? Do IT staffers really believe that conscientious, committed employees turn into crazed, malicious, hackers when given a bit of freedom over their IT environment? Or are they all secret control freaksthe sort of folks who alphabetize their DVD collections and have separate drawers for different colored socks? Either way, if they had the budget, they'd probably hire hall monitors.
Some IT folks might argue in their defense that standardization helps to keep IT costs downbut so would having only one item on the menu in the corporate canteen. If leading edge IT tools are, as many claim, essential to unleashing human creativity, why would any company force all of its employees to use the same computers, phones and software programs? This makes no more sense than forcing every painter in the world to use the same canvas and brushes, irrespective of the scale and style of the particular painting. Sadly, though, logic seldom prevails with bureaucrats, who will always vote for control over freedom. In an organization built around shared norms, transparency and self-control, would bureaucrats do? IT professionals need to spend less time trying to enforce technology standards and more time trying to make sure that every employee has access to the world's best technology tools.
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