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IT Success Depends On Treating Staff As People, Not "Human Resources"

IT managers must think of employees as people, not as interchangeable resources, says author and former insurance CIO Frank Wander.

Evolutionary Science

Wander's convictions aren't based merely on his instincts as a manager but rather on evolutionary science. Humans evolved in a dangerous environment, and when they feel threatened, the brain's limbic system triggers reactions that are destructive to creative thought, he says.

"Success of a technology team depends on people knowing that management has their back, so that they can relax and think about their work," Wander says.

The manager must be a "servant" to the needs of those under their supervision, he says. "The manager's job is to nurture talent and reduce the amount of stress associated with deadline-driven work."

[IT’s Record of Failure Is Worse Than You Think]

The industrial approach has been to establish a process, assign "human resources" and expect success, Wander says. However, the record shows that IT managers should rethink the human component, which constitutes the bulk of operating expense in IT -- about 64% on average, according to a Gartner study Wander cites.

"Talent is the only shortcut," Wander counsels. "Until we understand talent as well as we understand computers and networks, we'll continue to have problems."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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