CIO Symmetry

Apr 28 2010   8:47PM GMT

Don’t let IT problems creep up on you — take control with strong IT leadership

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

Terry Childs, former network admin for the city of San Francisco, was recently found guilty of one felony count of denying computer services. In 2008, Childs refused to hand over WAN network passwords to his boss, and the city went 12 days without administrative control.

While Childs should have surrendered the passwords when asked, one juror, Jason Chilton, felt that the city was also at fault, saying that “management did everything they possibly could wrong.” Ineffective management and communication, he said, put Childs in a difficult situation.


Childs was on call all day, every day for IT and network support and was the only one who knew the passwords. There was also a “wide gap between Childs’ specialized understanding of that network” and that of just about every other city employee. (Childs was the only one in the department who had obtained an expert-level certification on the FiberWAN equipment.)

Childs was holding all of the power in this case, a big no-no. No one person should have total control of and access to critical systems like the network. Strong IT management and leadership keep the checks and balances in place.

So, how effective are you at managing IT in your own organization? Gaps in communication, oversights in IT project progress and management, and imbalanced resource allocation can throw off your team dynamics.

To pull back on your IT leadership reins, start communicating with your group — and actually listen to what your employees have to say. Make your “open door policy” more than just a slogan. If your employees know you actually listen to their concerns, you’ll get more information from across the department and can prevent minor quibbles from turning into big issues.

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