Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Pet Peeve: People are not Resources

This is directed to anyone out there who is a manager. People are not resources. Mistaking the two seems to be a common problem among Information Technology Managers.

Resources are things like PCs and software licenses and servers. Money is a resource. Time is a resource. People are, well, people. There are many bad decisions that would obviously be nonsensical and that might be avoided, if one realizes one is dealing with people, and not with resources.

Certainly, there are types of jobs where daily hire-and-fire might make sense. For example, digging ditches. If you have a highly knowledgeable workforce, then you can move them around rapidly on an adhoc basis to put out the fires of the day. In that case, mistaking people for resources may not do any harm. But when you are short of people who know your business and your systems software and how it all works together, then you have to remember that people are not like toasters that you can plug in and plug out. Developing people from fresh hires takes time. Trying to staff up today to meet your next month's deadline will not work. Laying off people to meet some target and then trying to get some back to meet another target is both poor planning and is also mistaking people for appliances.

Anyway, enough said.