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The Jurassic Park theory of tech support

IT guy, Dennis Nedry, wearing glasses and surrounded by old school computers

Part One

If Jurassic Park has taught us anything, it is the importance of hiring the right workplace tech team.

Let me tell you what I mean.

We’ve all seen the film - it’s a family favourite and a classic bit of movie-making; a fabulously imaginative story about the dangers of promethean hubris gone spectacularly awry.

The key takeaway is of course that artificially resurrecting extinct, lethal predators for the purposes of funfair antics is probably not a great idea; nor one that is liable to end well.

However, such a cursory reading of the narrative misses an important point about why it all went wrong and perhaps unjustly puts the blame on the scientists for meddling with nature and even more unfairly, on the dinosaurs themselves.

The real culprit arguably, is Dennis the IT guy.

IT guy, Dennis Nedry, wearing glasses and surrounded by old school computers

He was simply the wrong fit for the job and certainly did not have the park’s best interests at heart.

The IT systems at Jurassic Park were not being well looked after. They were being tampered with and went offline. This meant the electrified fences stopped working, the dinosaurs escaped, ran amok and ate a lawyer. Everyone’s day was ruined. 👎🏻

What I’m trying to say (somewhat facetiously) is that workplace tech is pretty important and if left in the wrong hands things can end up with rather unintended and dire consequences.

Of course, you might say that this is perhaps an extreme example of a hiring choice gone wrong, nevertheless it can prompt us to consider an important question. If we have sensibly identified that we wouldn’t want Dennis looking after our systems - then who exactly do we want and what sort of job do we want them to do?

All too often, the question can be a bit of an afterthought - it’s a department that is a little unloved and a little unglamorous, especially for a growing team that may not have the space for a dedicated IT person yet. Instead, a plucky startup might decide that John in Marketing is pretty good with computers and so he can look after all the techie stuff - problem solved!

However, the problem is only not quite solved because John gets busy. He has some pretty important projects to finish and simply hasn’t the time to focus on why Dave can’t print, why the WiFi is terrible or about all the other bigger picture strategy stuff.

Jeff Goldblum Life Finds A Way GIF

But life finds a way and everyone muddles along. Eventually though, the computers and systems begin to get a little neglected - software updates are all over the place, apps are misbehaving and password sharing is at an all time high!

What is worse, important clients keep asking for paperwork about your internal security, and John is frankly baffled by most of the questions. In the end your team is left with a big stack of technology that doesn’t play together nicely, isn't being cared for and often doesn't work.

Everyone is sad. 😞

Part Two

So, you’ve decided it’s time to get some proper workplace tech help - terrific idea!

Where to begin though? What should you be looking for?

Returning quickly to the Jurassic Park example, we’ve seen how the wrong sort of IT person can cause more harm than good - so it’s worth unpacking things just a little further. Consider these two questions…

  1. Everything breaks all the time, what do we even pay you for?
  2. We hardly ever use you, what do we even pay you for?

Why settle for bog standard support that doesn’t really know your business, takes ages to respond and just puts plasters on re-occurring issues?

There’s no sense paying someone to simply fight fires all the time, fixing one problem only for another to surface just as quickly. Being good at whack-a-mole is no way to measure the effectiveness of an IT team.

On the other hand, when everything works seamlessly the impression can be that the tech team is not doing anything at all - but good tech like good design, melts into the background and appears almost invisible. When it works, it works and everyone has a lovely time getting on with what they do best.

Workplace technology is so much more than just providing reactive support. It’s about creating positive, tech experiences that are dependable, safe and easy to use.

IT is often associated with with surly nerds sitting in dark rooms telling you to turn it off and on again (though this does genuinely help in some cases).

Instead let's try to start a new conversation about workplace technology and think about it holistically, proactively and with a clear roadmap in mind. What isn’t working well for you right now, and where do you want your tech to be in twelve months time?

Technology that is valued and systems that are well-cared for have the power to amplify productivity. It can accelerate teams on towards bigger and better projects, help win over security-conscious clients and make everyone’s day a little better.

So it could be time to grab a bag of popcorn, settle into a comfy chair and rewatch Jurassic Park with a fresh set of eyes.

Reframe the role technology plays within your business, consider investing in the best out there and together, we can use tech to do amazing things and everyone can avoid being eaten by dinosaurs.

Jurassic Park GIF, with large gates closing behind a moving green jeep. There are tropical plants and flaming torches.

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