The power of habits – Blogging for Computerworld

April 20, 2011 Appirio

Glenn Weinstein

I supposed it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. — Abraham Maslow, The Psychology of Science

Is your IT shop full of hammer-wielders?

The long-term economic inevitability of public cloud computing can’t be denied, yet many IT departments act as if the cloud isn’t quite “ready.” Much of this uncertainty is mob-based; you sound smart if you shift into passive voice and declare “there are still questions about the [security/scalability/maturity] of public cloud offerings.” I pressed a job applicant this week, who made such a declaration, to offer concrete examples of such questions from his personal experience. No matter how I asked, he answered some form of, “everyone else thinks it’s not ready, so I guess I think it’s not ready.”

This form of confirmation bias – “we can’t use a cloud offering because we don’t do things that way” – comes from ingrained habits. I’ll admit that I still tend to power through any data loading exercise using their official data loader tool alongside Excel, even as colleagues have pointed out the merits of more sophisticated solutions. I keep doing it “my way” because I’m familiar with it. Still, I acknowledge that’s not the smartest or most efficient approach for a large-scale project. When it comes to data loading, I’m a hammer-wielder.

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