After a hectic week at work, I coined a new term. The term is ‘Blamistrator’ and is used to replace the word ‘Administrator’. For example, server administrator or antivirus administrator would become server blamistrator and antivirus blamistrator.
The root of the word is blame and it also reflects what happens. The ability to administer the server or service is taken away by those criticizing you and is instead replaced with blame. You might be blamed that the antivirus has certain behaviors though the vendor was selected by a committee after going out for bids. You might be blamed that Windows Updates took a long time to install even though you just administer the server that caches the updates locally. It’s not due to not performing your tasks or knowing your job but is instead caused by politics mixing with technology. Others being quick to point the blame should realize the limitations of the administrator and should instead try to provide them with helpful information to try to troubleshoot the problem.
Unfortunately, IT Professionals may find themselves in this position frequently. This was discussed from a different angle earlier this year in the article ‘Handling incidents, not blame‘.
A culture of “name-and-blame” along with “cover your ass” does not build teamwork and leaves management unable to manage.
Running complex services requires significant knowledge and supporting infrastructure while training is an after thought as the fast pace of technology continuously churns out new information to master. Those running the services are expected to be experts of newly released software or devices even though the manufacturer has kept the information secret until their big reveal and trickles the documentation out slowly following the release.
Using the term ‘blamistrator’ highlights the mismatch between capability and responsibility. As a system administrator, you may be responsible for keeping a server up and running with optimal performance. If you feel like a ‘blamistrator’, you might instead find yourself with more responsibilities than you have the power to deal with any problems that arise.
Coincidentally, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s webcomic was based on a similar notion. In the comic, a 30 year old individual discusses increasing depression in his 30s while an older character explains the common life experience of power and responsibility being inversely related. Your responsibility and your power impact your overall happiness. When you are young, you have little responsibility but also little power. When you are older, you have more responsibility and more power. Somewhere in the middle, you have more responsibility but lack the power to easily meet those responsibilities. A comic is better seen than explained, so go read SMBC comic #3928.