Ian Angell

Managing Uncertainty

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Managing Uncertainty in today’s IT

ImageA few days ago I attended an IT forum in Athens. It was a one day conference that gathered IT directors from all over Greece to hear about way to manage uncertainty in their IT projects. The most interesting speaker (by far) was Ian Angell. He is one of the most respected authority on organisational IT policies (judging from my google search) and definitely a controversial and provoking speaker.

His presentation in a nutshell:

1. Today’s managers are methodolics (I guess this apply to all managers and not only to IT ones). They try to solve problems just by classifying them and trying to implement a know methodology instead of looking at the real problem and overcome it with constructive thinking. Why ? Because according to the professor, with technology we are usually looking where the light is, not where the problem is. Methods are there for support not for illumination.

2. In today’s world there is no such thing as control and we all believe the illusion that our world can be controlled through methods. Unfortunately though we cannot manage uncertainty, we can manage only risk. We use categorisation and classification methods to transform uncertainty into risk and identify its tacit properties and its latencies.

3. This continuous methodological approach creates data pollution through business analytics based on numbers. But numbers are like people, torture them enough and they’ll tell you everything. As Mark Twain put it “it’s not the figures lying, its the liars figuring”.

4. There are two forms of Management: management when things are normal and management when things are not normal. Usually in problematic situation nothing is normal.

5. Most of the times technology is part of the problem, as is part of the solution.Computers and technology is nothing more than a bureaucracy. They cannot cope with subjectivity, subtlety, ambiguity and complexity. Only talent and people can leverage the power of technology.

The last book of Professor Ian Angell is available: http://sciencesfirstmistake.com/