IT Burnout: The Problem, The Solution
By Shlomo Maital
In New Zealand, my wife and I went into a knitting shop to buy wool, so that Sharona can knit a shawl. The owner was a woman from San Francisco, an IT expert who studied at Stanford and held very good IT jobs. But she chose to open a wool shop. Why?
She explained the reason. IT experts fix problems with computers. That means they are daily dealing with unhappy people, who are grumpy and bitter about a computer crash, and tend to ‘blame the victim’ – i.e. blame the IT person, who after all is responsible for anything that goes wrong with software and computers in the organization. She simply got tired of dealing with complaining angry people. Those who buy wool are far happier and more appreciative.
I’ve encountered this phenomenon of IT burnout all over the world. And it is ironic. Because IT experts are the one group within an organization who truly understand the entire organization and its ecosystem. But rarely if ever is this knowledge fully utilized by senior management. IT experts are simply regarded as technicians. But they are not – they are systems experts who do understand how the organization works, how the flow of information works, and how people interact. And of course, they are sitting on massive amounts of value intra-organizational data.
If you are in IT, and are experiencing some of the burnout phenomenon described above, think about building some alternatives. Either – seek positions within your organization outside the IT realm (you’ll need to do some homework before you do), or, find something about which you are passionate outside your organization, and it can be an “adjacent possibility” (something close to IT), or a distant endeavour about which you are truly passionate.
But – don’t continue to suffer. Life is short.