the sysadmin ultimately exists to support the business

In response to the 7 things sysadmins forget, Rebecca Herold commented and I wanted to pull it out for a separate post.

Forgetting that their sys admin job ultimately exists to support the business

No kidding! I think there are three mindsets when it comes to sysadmins (and really, IT/business in general).

1. Sysadmins who understand this concept and make decisions themselves on how their job relates to the business.

I consider these sysadmins to be empowered admins who understand their job. They can prioritize their time and make decisions frequently on their own that really do benefit the company and their own role. The sysadmin with this mindset tends to perform risk assessment and decision-making in her head and can sometimes be seen as making rash (but hopefully accurate) decisions.

2. Sysadmins who don’t care about this question and instead defer this layer of involvement in the business to their boss.

Sysadmins at this stage seem to need lots of things escalated to their manager, even when small ticket requests have slightly larger implications. They do their job well, give a nice point to their manager on their views, but ultimately let someone else make a decision for them. Some sysadmins may get forced into this position based on the company and managers they interact with. When bureaucracy does not exist, this may be a result of lack of respect and trust given to the sysadmin such that he is not allowed to make his own decisions. Other times, this is just the style the business prefers.

3. Sysadmins who forget this all the time and really think the business exists to serve their job, or better yet, they only see their job as being ultimately important.

These sysadmins are typified by saying secure this secure that, even if it impacts business negatively. They make decisions based on their job only. Sometimes this is good, especially in a large corporation where you only really have a small slice to make decisions around anyway, but typically this is a negative mindset where the admin is likely never feeling fulfilled and really never fully gets his way…ever.

I think it would be beneficial to see which sysadmin one is, and what sysadmin the company nurtures. Even something as simple as me being a #2 sysadmin but in a #1 company can lead to unhappiness and underperformance. For instance, I like making decisions quickly on my own about what security and IT initiatives to do and how to do them, but if I am in a company where my boss and other managers hate that, I likely won’t be very effective and we might all end up turning in sourpusses over time.