My favorite IT pundit is Bob Lewis, who has an Advice Line blog at Infoworld. I’ve been reading him for years, since long before there were such things as blogs. (I liked Bob Metcalfe, too, as an IT pundit, back when he was punditing. But now that he’s gone, it’s just Bob Lewis.)
Before he got into IT, Bob got a PhD doing behavioral research on electric eels, which means he got off to a good start. He has amazing insights into the way businesses can and should work, especially but not only on the IT side. Anyone who believes in the conservative values of free markets and limited government will find a wealth of information to help one understand why we do not want the usual leftwing solutions of centralized planning and welfare-police statism.
Unfortunately, Bob has not allowed his business insights to inform his politics. He leans way too far to the left in politics, and often acts like a frustrated political pundit who looks for any excuse to talk politics rather than business. He draws connections between business and politics, sure enough, but is usually oblivious to the real import of what he is saying. Some people find his politics annoying. But that’s no reason not to read his columns and use them as a valuable resource for libertarian-leaning conservative politics.
Here is an example, from his latest, titled “The magic formula for IT budgeting.”
I know practitioners who claim it allows them to estimate projects with high levels of precision.
My personal opinion: The best way to estimate projects is to break them into small chunks with go/no-go gates in between. That allows you to avoid estimating how long it will take to build a system before you’ve decided what has to go into it.
That’s a great argument for not letting the government design a massive health care system for our country, which if it was to work would require knowledge that no government bureaucracy could ever hope to attain.
An alternative, which I increasingly like as I grow older and less energetic, is to assign one programmer/analyst to a business change effort. The P/A sits with the end-users, learns their job, helps them think about the next logical and easy-to-implement process improvement, and makes whatever system changes are necessary to make it possible. Then they do the next one.
It’s business improvement through the removal of small annoyances. It can be surprisingly effective, and makes resource planning easy. What it doesn’t let you do easily is predict when you’ll reach the point of diminishing returns on the improvement effort so you can redeploy your P/A to the next one.
Exactly. Whether it’s transportation planning or health care reform, nothing can beat the use of the market to let people design solutions to remove small annoyances. Of course, that doesn’t feed political egos, so government has no natural motive to nurture, protect, and foster these market forces. Instead, it tries to force private parties into government-like one-size-fits-all mandates (e.g. mandated benefits) where they will naturally fail, which will give government an excuse and political support to step in, take over, and make the situation even worse. But we shouldn’t be buffaloed when they say, “Well, what is YOUR solution?” There is no one solution — probably no solution at all. There is just the ability to improve our health care system greatly through small, market-oriented reforms. That doesn’t mean there is no place or need for government welfare — just that we do not want it for a solution.
Bob also publishes a column called “Keep The Joint Running” at issurvivor.com Highly recommended. Bob dislikes conservative politics, but that doesn’t matter. His column is one of the best conservative resources out there now that Milton Friedman is gone.