This sentiment might come across as sophomoric at first glance. Why should we celebrate IT? Isn't "partying" for teenagers or weekend sojourns to Vegas? And isn't zealotry the stuff of cults and extremists?
Before we go too far down that path, let me be clear what I mean by celebration. First, all parts of the organization deserve time to collectively reflect on their achievements, to inject fun and warmth into their work life, and to connect with peers and others in congenial, open conditions. No less so for IT professionals whose toils and contributions are often overlooked in a world dominated by PR and "front-end" activities like marketing and sales.
Second, celebration does not imply arrogance or boasting. It simply implies the creation of a "narrative" through collective recitation and refinement. Celebrations, therefore, are necessary parts of any sustainable culture. Again, no less for IT.
And by zealotry, I mean that all communities that exert influence over their own futures have to cohere around not only functional principles (for example, we all work on similar technologies or have similar professions) but also emotional ones (we are in this together.) Zealous communities love who they are and what they do, and find meaning in it.
Think about the gaming community--imagine the power we'd have as IT if we could replicate their passion and emotional energy!
[IT has to correct mistaken perceptions about its value to the enterprise. Get advice on how to get started in "IT Must Change Business Minds."]
In my view, celebration plus zealotry leads to the ultimate goal--to create pageantry in IT, where we take our community, our profession and our careers forward in grand, dramatic style.
By celebrating IT, we give a large community its due. More important, however, is that we make clear how important IT is to running the business, to innovation and to sustainable growth. This clarity, still so lacking in the business world, is a key element to the education that every single person in the organization needs in order to create success.
The idea here is that by celebrating IT professionals, we make enough noise to be heard. In this process we get others in the organization to start noticing us, to start thinking about how we contribute, and ultimately to co-invest in and with us in positive futures.
This, not aggrandizement, is the real point. This is why, every year, I go to Interop--to be part of that crucible of learning, sharing, celebration and zealotry. Interop has evolved with the particular needs of the time, going from what was once a "purely technical" experience to one that combines technology with larger factors including industry trends, changing business models and the new landscape of decision making.
It has also evolved from a "IT for IT's sake" show to one that couches IT at the heart of the sea-change that has happened in business over the last two decades. Finally, it has moved from "content, content, content" to "community, content, commerce" and the fourth "C" that matters even more--celebration.
We need our own pageants. Join this one or create your own.
[The Business of IT track at Interop New York aims to help IT leaders place IT in the forefront of the business. Join us at the Javits Center from September 30th to October 4th.]