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Beginner’s mind in IT

A young information technology worker in a large organization follows his common sense — and his boss scolds for it. The question is how to respond.

Back in 1980, he had just started at his first job, at the CBS Television Network. He soon noticed that every week business people asked him for the same data from the same source. So he did the logical thing: he wrote an algorithm for himself to save time.

Then he did the next logical thing: he gave the algorithm to the business people. They could do it themselves, and he didn’t have to do it for them. Everyone was happy.

That is, everyone was happy until the boss heard. The young man was called into the office.

“You gave them an algorithm?,” the boss asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“So now they can extract the data all by themselves?”

“Sure. They always ask for the same thing, so I thought they’d like it better if they didn’t have to ask me.”

“Lou, if they can do that, what’s our job?”

His ultimate response is a good product — which he won’t let me identify — that gives users control of their data.

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