Fire Fighter or Fire Preventer
In the business world, I find that there are two different types of people. I think in most cases it goes to their core personality however in some cases, it may just be that they don’t know how to be the other type. Usually it’s not something they think about or even realize but if you’re looking for the characteristics, it is easy to categorize most people. The concept applies whether it is the IT department or the accounting department or even at the executive level.
- Love the thrill and excitement of never knowing what is going to happen next. Always busy.
- Love the gratification of knowing that they solved a whole slew of problems today.
- Love the challenge of figuring out what went wrong this time.
- Fairly easy to measure their worth (although it’s a false measurement).
- May be critical based on the business culture so they likely have good job security.
- Are less interested in implementing multiple layers of security and internal control.
- Think fire prevention is largely unnecessary. Will deal with a problem if it surfaces.
- Lead a pretty boring life. May appear to waste a lot of time.
- Are always trying to predict what could go wrong, so may be labeled as pessimistic.
- Are generally not appreciated as much as fire fighters.
- Extremely hard to measure their worth in hard numbers.
- May not be viewed as necessary so they have less job security.
- Are going to institute many layers of security and internal control (to prevent fires).
- Always want to spend more money.
- Hate firefighting (although they can usually do it)
- Are sometimes hard to find
Which method fits you best?
Firefighting causes business inefficiency. By definition, you only firefight when there is a problem. This problem could be something small (even unnoticeable like a workstation is working slower than it should) or it could be that you’ve been hit by ransomware and your whole computer system is down for days or weeks. Usually the effect is somewhere in-between those two extremes. The cost of the inefficiency is usually hard, if not impossible, to measure and quantify but it definitely exists.
Fire prevention commonly requires more hard dollars be spent up-front, so that is easier to measure. But it’s impossible to measure the savings in efficiency since you don’t know what problems you didn’t have.
Each organization should define what they want their employees to be, in each department within the organization. In today’s world where there is high risk of ransomware and malware attacking IT infrastructure, I recommend a high level of fire prevention be maintained in anything related to IT.
In Pettit Consulting, P.C.’s Know It Now® Management consulting practice we also recommend a high level of fire prevention throughout the organization as it gives you more accurate and more timely information. We also developed Carillon ERP®, a unique solution designed to meet every single criteria for the Know it now® philosophy.
If you’re currently in firefighting mode and you’re ready to move out of it, please don’t hesitate to give me call.