Intelligence is now running rampant and uncontrolled in every direction of IT:

  • Build talent internally with long term focus on full time employees!
  • Build from services, don’t build everything internally!
  • Open source is super great. Supported too? All the better!
  • Deployment & development : same thing!
  • Externally managed cloud resources? One excellent option.
All of these shifts are happening now. It is very real, and it isn’t a blip, it’s a permanent shift. Weird.
We couldn’t be happier. But it is a little scary.

Darn, There Goes Our Business Model

“Wow our team is really making some moves! Look, [Herbert] automated some of his tasks with an ant script! We’re even putting it into production”.
This would have been a great quote if it hadn't been about Ant, in 2009. This was horse and buggy technology by 2009. Helping out at a shop like that is, well, a pretty easy thing to do.
Forward to 2015 and it’s as if IT Managers are taking smart pills, and everyone’s drinking from the same technology fire-hose.
And I can’t use my “outside consultant” status as an automatic ticket to easy billings. This is going to require some adjustments...

Three New Requirements for Consultants

The shift: All of a sudden, each full time employee is getting smarter quickly, because he/she is working on it, enthusiastically. The company is also treating the internal guy like he really matters. Niiice. 
This isn't just a good shift, it is a great shift. Decades overdue.
Even if It’s a great problem to have, it’s still a problem. This may require these new behaviors for outside consultants.
  1. Install infrastructure code, not completed work.
  2. Be temporary only. Very temporary.
  3. Be a respectful peer, not haughty outsider.
These are complete different behaviors than what drove my past 15 years. We can do this. But it’s not the same.

1. Infrastructure code, not completed work

"You are responsible for leaving us with a working product."
"Very important that you not walk out of here with anything between your ears.”
Meaning that it's OK to facilitate the permanent, full time employee, but only just facilitate and assist. He, and not you, must be responsible for every bit of understanding and development.
It’s OK to leave infrastructure code, though. Not even infrastructure is OK. You have to leave the code that created the infrastructure. Chef, Ansible, Packer, Vagrant, all are acceptable to leave in the code repository. But not just the binaries they created.

2. Temporary Only

If the orders before the shift were to “stay awhile”, you can see how that would be a problem, because if I stay too long, I would end up acquiring knowledge that would walk out with me. A no-no.
Repeating to emphasize the point - do the exact minimum that would enable the full time guy to get his work done, and it all stays behind - with him. 

3. Respectful Peer

Being respectful seems like an odd response to intelligence, but before the shift, neither the technical guy nor his manager was making much of an effort to keep up with the march of technology. So there was this tacit acknowledgement that you would speak to them in a top down manner about what should happen. You're the expert.
This is the best part of the shift, if not the most challenging. Post shift, a person like me is just as likely to get pushback, and that’s usually healthy. Xyz technology? Oh, I prefer Abc tech because of this and that. Here are some comparative metrics and use cases. Wow! That’s a different kind of attitude. Intelligent conversation between peers! But it does require the outside consultant to be at the top of his game. Great stuff.

Summary: The New Unicorn

A side effect of all this wonder is that the enterprise - at long last, really is looking to hire and grow that internal Unicorn - a beast that is so wonderful and unique, no one has actually seen one yet. 
We’re all for it. We’d like to help. Even if it does offer us one giant kick in the rear, at times. 
There are two of us in my shop, one dev, one ops.  We’re both pretty competitive types, so we enjoy the challenge. And that’s what this shift is, a great challenge.
Let us know if there is anything we can help you with.

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