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Carpe Diem

By steve - Posted on 16 December 2008

Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. ut melius, quidquid erit, pati.
seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare
Tyrrhenum: sapias, vina liques et spatio brevi —
spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida
aetas: carpe diem quam minimum credula postero.
Leuconoe, don't ask — it's a sin to know —
what end the gods will give me or you. Don't play with Babylonian
fortune-telling either. It is better to endure whatever will be.
Whether Jupiter has allotted to you many more winters or this final one
which even now wears out the Tyrrhenian sea on the rocks placed opposite
be smart, drink your wine. Scale back your long hopes
to a short period. While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled
Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.
  Horace (23 BC)

"Carpe diem" is a latin term that translates to "seize the day". It is generally understood to mean, "take advantage of opportunties now, before time passes".

One of the skills any IT person should develop is an "eye for opportunity".

Opportunities will reveal themselves in many areas of IT, but it can generally be defined as a momentary situation that, if utilized, results in huge returns.

For instance, let's say you have just been hired to run the IT department of an organization. The very first opportunity you have is the unwritten rule of the "honeymoon". This is the 60 to 180 day window whereby the newly hired department head can basically get whatever she wants, within limitations. You see, the people that hired you want to feel good about their decision. They want to help you succeed and they want to look like they've solved a problem.

You have this "honeymoon" window of opportunity to demonstrate you can quickly identify problems and solutions. If you waste it in meetings and milling about or even starting important projects that you won't see results from for years, you'll have lost an opportunity to really shake things up. If you take a little time, think things through, and mesh up your strategy with the culture of the organization, you'll have the most access to money, time, and resources that you'll ever have for as long as you work for the organization!

Another example is during an office move or redesign. Don't be shy! Get involved in the process (you'll probably be responsible for wiring and wireless layout, anyway) as quickly as possible. Do what you can to get additional square footage, nicer offices, and better storage. If you respond like the typical IT department, you'll end up in the basement of building in the least desireable conditions, stuck in the server room with the storage racks filled with 7 year old invoice copies. Don't let this happen! Take advantage of the opportunity and get decent working space!

Here are some ways you can recognize an opportunity that allows you to "carpe diem":

  • Major changes are being imposed
  • Something, like a big project, is just getting started
  • Something, like a big project, is just ending
  • Something just broke (again)
  • Personnel changes
  • Financial changes

Here are some examples of times when you should really start smelling an opportunity:

  • Significant change (positive or negative) has been forced on you
  • You've recently upgraded your infrastructure
  • You have a solution that solves more than one problem
  • Your organization is suddenly flush with cash
  • Your organization is suddenly cash poor
  • Your organization is on a hiring binge
  • Your organization is laying off
  • Your boss was just promoted
  • Your boss was just fired
  • You are being transfered
  • Your key employee just quit
  • A new technology has become available
  • An older technology has become cheaper
  • Your boss wants an Apple Mac and you've always been a Microsoft shop

Here are some more specific situations:

  • You were just hired: 90 day honeymoon period--get a great laptop, docking station, and two 27" monitors (for you and your staff)
  • A building move or rennovation: upgrade your department's work space
  • Merger: get out in front of it and take charge
  • New employee: train the employee the way you want them to work, not the way the department used to work--imprint them with the best of you
  • A special IT project needs a customizable solution: use open source software such as the LAMP platform to create competitive advantage
  • An old system needs to be replaced: create a web-based solution for access anytime, anyplace, without installing software
  • Your infrastructure is now 70% web-based: switch to low-cost, high-quality netbooks to create a "disposable", cloud-based, information access solution for users

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