Responsibility Equals Authority

August 19, 2008

I have been reading “The Practice Of Management” by the late, great Peter Drucker

The fact that it has been in print since 1954 should be recommendation on its own!!

In the text Mr. Drucker emphasizes that responsibility with out authority does not work.

Hoo-Boy! that reminded me of a very frustrating period a lot earlier in my IT career. Being the lone IT Administrator in a SMB I had responsibility for;

– 24 x 7 on call support
– Minimize scheduled maintenance outages during business hours
– Ensure tested and reliable data recovery services for all enterprise resources and data
– Ensure reliable and consistent operations of all IT physical and data assets within the organization

Yet I had no authority to make any of these work without tying myself in knots with 80 hour work weeks.

– Our data exceeded the amount of tape space available, requiring manually feeding in tapes, a larger tape drive or library was not in the cards.

– Heat, even as a small business we had a very packed server room. Heat became such an issue that on my own dollar I had purchased huge fans and peeled out ceiling tiles to try and improve airflow. Even with that, hardware was still dieing on a weekly basis. I had to fix it all- but it took 2 years of begging before better air movement was installed.

The list could go on, but needless to say, it was frustrating.

For business managers in the SMB space, I know that IT can be as invisible as the service on your car or your truck fleets.

But as invisible as you may think it is – it needs that maintenance too. If you want someone to have the responsibility for something working – you cannot withhold the authority that provides the ability to get it done.

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