Beneficial Intelligence

Deadly incompetence

October 09, 2020 Sten Vesterli Season 1 Episode 16
Beneficial Intelligence
Deadly incompetence
Chapters
Beneficial Intelligence
Deadly incompetence
Oct 09, 2020 Season 1 Episode 16
Sten Vesterli

In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss deadly incompetence. 

Some people are more competent than others, and it is a leadership challenge to place people in positions where the organization can make the most of their competence. It is also the task of the leader not to place anyone in a position where lack of competence can have large negative results. 

Unfortunately, someone at Public Health England was placed in a critical position without the necessary competence. PHE was gathering coronavirus data from all over the country in the form of CSV files and were gathering all of the data into an ancient Excel spreadsheet. That old version had a limitation of 65,000 rows. That meant that over a period of eight days, more than 15,000 cases were silently discarded. They were not reported to the contact tracing teams, no contact tracing happened, more people will have gotten ill, and some of them will die. 

As a CIO, you need to make sure you know which systems on your systems list are critical, and can affect someone's health or large amounts of money. The business owner must make the classification, but you need to have regular conversations with the technical person responsible for each critical system. That's the only way to prevent pockets of deadly incompetence in your organization. 

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Beneficial Intelligence is a weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs and other IT leaders. To get in touch, please contact me at [email protected]

Show Notes

In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss deadly incompetence. 

Some people are more competent than others, and it is a leadership challenge to place people in positions where the organization can make the most of their competence. It is also the task of the leader not to place anyone in a position where lack of competence can have large negative results. 

Unfortunately, someone at Public Health England was placed in a critical position without the necessary competence. PHE was gathering coronavirus data from all over the country in the form of CSV files and were gathering all of the data into an ancient Excel spreadsheet. That old version had a limitation of 65,000 rows. That meant that over a period of eight days, more than 15,000 cases were silently discarded. They were not reported to the contact tracing teams, no contact tracing happened, more people will have gotten ill, and some of them will die. 

As a CIO, you need to make sure you know which systems on your systems list are critical, and can affect someone's health or large amounts of money. The business owner must make the classification, but you need to have regular conversations with the technical person responsible for each critical system. That's the only way to prevent pockets of deadly incompetence in your organization. 

---
Beneficial Intelligence is a weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs and other IT leaders. To get in touch, please contact me at [email protected]