This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is being hosted by Andy Leonard (blog|twitter). The subject is Managing Technology Changes. As Andy describes it, “For this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, I want you to write about how you have responded – or plan to respond to – changes in technology“. This post will be my contribution for T-SQL Tuesday #138 – Managing Technology Changes.
This is a pretty wide subject area, that gives everyone plenty of possibilities for blog topics. Being more focused on one narrow topic can be bad, since it may discourage some people from writing a post. Just writing a useful blog post, and getting quality links back and forth from other blogs in the SQL Server community is good for everyone who participates!
BTW, reading and then commenting on the T-SQL Tuesday blog posts of other participants helps both you and the other blogger. They get views and comments on their blog, and you get backlinks to your blog. T-SQL Tuesday also helps encourage people to blog more often, which is good.
In my case, I am going to talk about some of my experiences with embracing or resisting new technology.
T-SQL Tuesday #138 – Managing Technology Changes
Generally speaking, I have always been a “technology seeker” in both my professional and personal life. That means that I typically actively seek out and try to acquire new and “improved” versions of things that I use to do my job. My basic mindset (which may be too optimistic) is that new versions are intrinsically better than older existing versions.
Whether is a new family of server CPUs, a new version of SQL Server, or a new firmware update for a camera, I am always on the lookout for that new thing, which must be better… Most of the time, new versions are an improvement over what they replaced, but not always. Especially with software, new versions sometimes make things worse.
Everywhere I have ever worked, I have always tried to push the organization to be an early adopter of new technology or versions as much as possible. Part of me just wants the new shiny thing, but as I gained experience, I learned to look for the business benefits of adopting something new. Identifying what existing problems a new version of something will help improve or solve is crucial. You can’t just rattle off a list of new features, you need to understand how new features and improvements can actually be useful.
So far, I have never been badly burned by doing this. If you do your research and come up with a good plan that includes enough testing, you usually have a much better chance of success.
As a consultant, I am sometimes puzzled when I run into clients who are extremely resistant to technological change. It just runs counter to my natural way of thinking. It is not just resistance to large, perhaps risky changes, but resistance to any changes or improvements.
Many people in the technology field have an underlying resistance to change. Anytime you change something, there is a chance it might break. This is an understandable motivation. Colin Powell is credited with saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. It’s an excuse for inaction, a call to non-arms.”
I once worked with a brilliant person who refused for years to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. Once this person finally moved to Windows 7, they repeated the same pattern, refusing to upgrade until Windows 7 fell out of support. This actually caused quite a few problems for him and his team, but it didn’t matter to him. He was happy with what he was used to.
How Do You Balance This?
To be honest, I struggle with this. In technology, you are usually better off trying to stay current as much as possible where it makes business sense. Once you have adopted something new (like a new version of SQL Server), you should make an effort to properly maintain it. Don’t be so afraid of breaking something that you never do any patching or maintenance.
In my personal technology life, I sometimes get myself into trouble by trying new things. More than once, I have broken something that was previously working just fine. I sometimes joke to my wife that I can’t leave well enough alone. This can cause frustration and wasted time, but I usually learn new things along the way.
I hope that this post has been interesting and useful! I also want to thank Andy for hosting this month.
If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!