Saturday, January 25, 2014

IT-Averse Senior Management? There's a Workaround for That

Last week, I was talking to someone, and - totally unexpectedly - two situations I had completely forgotten about resurfaced in my memory.

Situation #1

Quite a few years ago.

I am sitting in the office of an old friend of mine, who owns and runs a successful business. His company is larger than what in Europe they call a "medium-sized enterprise", but not huge. As a person, he is, quite possibly, the nicest businessman I've ever met. You should see how courteous he is with the cleaning lady... but I digress...

So, we are sitting in his office chatting about his business. He is telling me about some of his challenges, and I am throwing ideas (naturally, the IT kind) back at him - just to keep the conversation going. Even though I am careful enough not to get too technical, I can tell by the look on his face that he does not understand much of what I am saying. Then, looking a little embarrassed, he confesses that all of it is totally over his head, that he "hardly knows anything about computers", and that he only occasionally uses his "obscenely expensive, but mostly useless, laptop to send personal e-mails".

As tactfully as I only can, I inquire if this (I can barely stop myself from using the word "disability") complicates his professional life. "Not at all," he replies cheerfully. "At work, I have a girl for that," he adds pointing at the door behind which is the office of his administrative assistant.

This was before AMC's Mad Men. Otherwise, I would have thought I was at Sterling Cooper.

Image from The Watcher, a Chicago Tribune TV blog by Maureen Ryan

Image from AMC Blogs

    Note: In order to be completely objective, I have to explain that, in the country where this conversation took place, the word "girl", although not entirely appropriate in workplace context, did not sound as terribly politically incorrect as it would have in the U.S.