Friday 16 November 2007

Business Principles: Drawing the line between Confidence and Arrogance

This post can be a bit of a tough pill to swallow ... so keep that in mind when reading! ;) Believe me ... been there ... done that ... and still fall into it at times!

As the front line between our clients and disaster with their I.T. technology, there is a lot of responsibility placed upon our shoulders.

Those of us who run small I.T. support shops, especially the ones that have obtained the Microsoft Small Business Specialist designation, need to wear many hats ... and wear them well.

It is a responsibility that we should never take lightly. An error made by us could cost our client their business, or a large sum of money through lost productivity if things do not work as they should.

There is an old cliché: The more you know, the less you know.

Among the many disciplines out there, I.T. surely ranks right up there when we realize that the more we get into a hardware or software product the more we realize we need to learn.

It is a fact of life so get over it. ;)

What this boils down to for those of us with the small I.T. shops is to recognize and know our limitations.

We need to know when to reach out to that phone to call someone who knows more about a particular hardware or software product than we do.

If we do not reach out for help when needed, we cross the line from being confident and knowing our limitations to overconfidence and even further arrogance:
  • My way or the highway.
  • I know what I am doing and don't need any help.
  • Yeah, I know or I know.
  • I know my job Mr. Client, you know yours, so stick to it.
  • This is how you do it: click, click, click, click, click (so fast no one could keep up)
  • That familiar "looking down the nose" at you.
Overconfidence and arrogance can get us into real trouble:

Um, just where did that GPO go?!? 8-O

If we do not understand the consequences of a particular action, we may cause a server to hiccup and go down or to even hiccup and die.

Here is another example:

Windows Update Settings Missing

Should look like this:

Windows Update Settings are There

We all make mistakes. That is a fact of life. Even the most seasoned of professional makes errors. When we do, if we can, we make amends with our client and do what we can to restore things to their original state at our cost.

The more the restitution costs us, the more valuable that lesson will be in the future.

A person who is confident and knows their limitations is a lot easier to get along with. In their confidence and expertise, they recognize when someone is offering valuable and constructive criticism or comments about the work that they do.

The confident one also knows when to be silent and enjoy the fact that someone else is showing them something they just discovered ... even though the confident one already knew it.

Watch how the light in the person's eyes who just discovered that something is extinguished by the, "Yeah, I know" or "yeah, whatever".

Our clients will understand when we need to bring in specialists within a particular field to meet a need. They will especially appreciate the fact that we are willing to bring experts in to facilitate the best possible solution for their needs.

A benefit of bringing experts in is the opportunity for us to learn. That is probably one of the best ways to learn about something: side by side with an expert.

It will also help us better understand the complexity and the skill involved in putting a product like Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Standard and Premium together and having the components play nice together on one box.

And finally, there is no longer an excuse to use production systems as guinea pigs to test our theories. With virtualization, Quad Core Xeon Uniprocessor or dual processor servers, and a TechNet Plus subscription we can build virtually any environment we need to test them out beforehand ... and do it very inexpensively!

UPDATE 07-11-19: Grammatical change: "...opportunity for us ..."

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.


Harrybbbb (Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation) said...

Another great post Philip - I am regularly reading your blog and am very impressed with your command of both the technical and business realms.

The arrogant attitude you speak of has, unfortunately, started to overflo into many SBSC blogs and SBS newsgroups. I mourn the old days of the late 90s when it was a gentlier kinder world...perhaps your excellent post here will help many of us revisit the goold old days.


Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


Wow ...

You are, to me, one of the top role models in our field so I am truly honoured.

Thank you very much for the compliments.