Abdication of Advocacy

How do we advocate for ourselves and the groups we want to promote? A friend of mine showed me an article about Information Technology support politics. As a longtime IT worker, the article disheartened me by ending in the same mistaken way so many advocacy articles do: making a plea to power holders for help. Using IT as an example, let’s talk about how IT advocacy goes wrong, and how to make it right.

Start with a quote from the first page: “When I’m recruiting support people, I don’t recruit them for their technical skills, I recruit them for how they get on with people.” So much yes. If we’re in IT support, we do two things when someone comes to us looking for support: validate their feelings, and help them find an answer. The former is more important than the latter, because Google and other search engines made knowledge much less important than the ability to find the knowledge. That’s why data science is the hottest tech job in the market right now. The issue isn’t finding data (although doing that correctly matters a lot). It’s figuring out how to shape data in useful ways. For IT support, validating a person’s feelings about a problem in turn validates the IT helper, and then both people can proceed to a solution. Continue reading