The Right Stuff

You all probably know that to get a difficult job done well and fast, you need the right people in the right place at the right moment in time. Those people also need the right tools. This requires people who can think on their feet, people who are resourceful and who will always seek and find opportunities under adverse conditions.

The placement and timing of these resources and assets is more than just management of some table matching names to roles. It’s not enough to have the right resources and skill sets. You need to know who and what is available and what these or they can contribute. Management is often not very good at this, so in a crisis they need to let go and rely on their people. Free Tip: you can’t start building a team when the crisis arrives 😉

It’s the boots on the ground will have to deal with the issues at hand and take the decisions. In a crisis time is of the essence. There is no place for too many layers of management, let alone micro management, only the ones with the right responsibilities insight and knowledge are needed and helpful. The decisions become tactical and operational within the context of the situation at hand and it its relation to the entire environment. So they have to be made by people who preferably know the environment well and have a very good skillset, drive and motivation. Basically this is what I refer to when I talk about the right stuff.

If you have ever worked or work in that sort of environment you know what I’m talking about. The knowledge that no matter where you are going for whatever reason, you’re doing so with a team of very skilled people who are the very best in the business, at the top of their game and ready to roll with any situation thrown at them. They are capable to react in a moment’s notice and focus entirely on the job at hand. If you’re interested in building such a team I suggest you select your team members very carefully. Head count doesn’t mean jack shit if they are the wrong people for the job and the team. Don’t ever lower the bar, it’s there for a very good reason.

This year I had misfortune of having to respond to two major HVAC disasters at night in a weekend. I had the good fortune of having the right stuff at my disposal. There is no “On Call”, there is no monetary compensation. This team is my crew and they are all volunteers who will do what is needed when it is needed. Why because they have professional pride and know that at these moments the very survival of the business they work for depends on them acting fast and correctly. To them it’s not about “somebody should do this” or ”that’s not my job”. It’s not about “this should be taken care of” or “I never had a template telling me what to do”. No, they step forward and get it done. This weekend, from the very first alert, 4 people were mobilized in 30 minutes and acted at the speed of light. This led to the emergency shutdown of a data center in a city 60 kilometers way to prevent a catastrophic meltdown of millions of euros in hardware (not even trying to put a value on the data loss). Two people were acting remotely and 2 (including me) were heading over there to have boots on the ground. The reason for this is that “the away team” could deal with anything that couldn’t be handled remotely and coordinate with facility management. Having people on site is important to all involved (two is preferable for safety reasons) for assessing the situation and for the sake of speed. More people often becomes less efficient as numbers are not the same as capability.

So to my team, I’m proud of you. I quote Beckwith “I’d rather go down the river with 7 studs than with a 100 shitheads”. You all know you’ve got the right stuff. Be proud of that!

1 thought on “The Right Stuff

  1. Pingback: 2012 Was A Great Year, 2013 Looks Great | Working Hard In IT

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