Last time I started a series of articles that compares going through the Basic Training experience and then coming out into the Real World, with the experience of becoming an Information Technology professional. Last time I spoke about the uniform. Today I'm going to speak about the Decorum.
In Basic Training we were taught proper decorum. We were drilled constantly on how to stand, how to act, even how to eat. We even spent hours learning to walk. I can't count the number of times we marched. We marched out to the shooting ranges, we marched to the obstacle courses, we marched to our workout field, we marched to the chow hall and we marched back to the barracks. We marched all over Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
At first we had to learn how to march. We had to learn to hold our arms down to our sides, to position our hands a certain way and not to swing our arms when we walked. We had to learn to always step off with our left foot. If we did it wrong, we had to do it all over again. You wouldn't believe how many times someone would step with their right foot. We had to learn how to stay in perfect step with everyone, and to stay in line, without turning our heads to see if we were in line.
After I returned from Basic Training, I was surprised at how much the decorum had broken down. People, soldiers, stood around talking, hands in their pockets. We walked, sauntered, around everywhere, no more marching. I remember one time we were supposed to march for some presentation and when we started to practice, I was shocked at how out of step we were. The men in my company addressed the officers in the company as equals, no decorum was evident. Basically, the soldiers who weren't drilling constantly, lost their decorum.
So, how does this relate to becoming an IT professional?
When you are in training to be an IT professional, whether it is in a College, University, or in training classes, you spend hours learning how to perform the job. You learn the processes and proper sequence of events to development. You learn the Software Development Methodology. You learn how to analyze situations and design solutions to resolve those situations. You learn how to use the tools to develop the solution and learn to test the code properly.
When you get hired, however, it can be a wake up call to a different reality. You may be exposed to chaos on a project. The requirements keep coming after the development and testing has begun. Users uncover new requirements during testing and the scope creeps during the project. What you expected from your training seems to be completely thrown out the window.
I was on a project one time that had the objective to move processing from one system to another. When I came on the project, I was told that there were no formal requirements, because nobody could articulate the requirements, other than, "make the new system do the same as the old system". I had to start by reviewing the old system and defining my own requirements. I worked with the business users and we had several requirement reviews and received sign off to start design and development.
Well, when we were going over the design review with the users, they said we missed a requirement, even though we had asked several times if we had covered all the requirements. We had to start another project to cover the missed requirements because the timeline on the project was set and couldn't be moved. By the time we got the project implemented into production, we had to spawn off 3 other projects due to missed requirements or new scope that had to be accounted for.
When we are in training for our career, we learn the decorum of the profession. We learn how to perform the job that we will be expected to perform, in a certain way. However, when we get out into the real world we can be shocked at the lack of decorum. We need to take the opportunity to try to establish as much decorum as we can so we can help the business achieve their goals.
In my next article I'll talk about the weapons!