Abusing "Resource" in IT

Typical conversation snippets:
"I need more resources."
"I don't have any good resource."
"We are not getting any good resources these days."
"I want that resource with Hari and not the one with Bala."
"Just add more resources and deliver the project on time."
What are we referring to here by "resource"?

I wouldn't be surprised if you guess it to be a table/ chair/computer/sand/cement / steel/ PVC tube/ concrete mixer/bullock cart, or anything you can think of. Hardly do the above snippets give an indication that, "Resource" here refers to a Human Being. A live Human, who can think, who has an individuality, who has certain unique strengths and weakness, and who like you and me is similar and dissimilar to every other Human.

I digress here.
  • Did you have a professor who never took attendance, but his classes were always full?
  • Do you remember that grumpy fellow at the neighborhood store, which you avoided given a choice?
  • Did your father or mother or any elders in your family spoke of there colleagues or people with whom they work/ do business as a "Resource"?
You must have got a fair idea that people around you, be it be at your school, home, work place were given respect which all of us accord on our fellow human beings. At the same time those with the ability get that additional due for what they are. Well, welcome to the world of "IT", where Human's are nothing more than the table/chair/computer around you. Now,Why do I say this?

Please go read the first five lines of this post again. If that is kind of attitude with which we are treated in "IT" by the management, what more do you expect me to say. Can't these people use people/ person instead of God-Damn Resource. It really gets on my nerves, when I hear such stuff.

The usage of Resource for "Human Resources", can be attributed to the very definition of the word[Wikipedia]:
"A resource is any physical or virtual entity of limited availability, or anything used to help one earn a living."
Going by this definition qualifies Human's as resources in any industry they work. Wikipedia has this to say about resources, specifically Human Resources, our point of discussion in this post.
Human resources
Human beings are also considered to be resources because they have the ability to change raw materials into valuable resources. The term Human resources can also be defined as the skills, energies, talents, abilities and knowledge that are used for the production of goods or the rendering of services. While taking into account human beings as resources, the following things have to be kept in mind:
  • The size of the population
  • The capabilities of the individuals in that population.
I don't have any problem when the word resource is employed for humans at a scale and situation where it is applicable i.e. as mentioned in the snippet when considering human beings as resources we have to keep in mind "The Capabilities". Even when we replace tables/ chairs/ computers there is a lot of difference between a good one, an average one and a bad one. And we are talking about Humans here. The problem here is not just the usage of word in letter but the usage in spirit.

Now the next question is, why do people/ management behave the way they do? In my experience with various managers:
  1. They truly believe that people are replaceable resources.
  2. They are in this industry for too long and got accustomed to this terminology (both in word and spirit).
  3. They don't have an opinion for or against the usage and so go with the mass practice.
  4. They do feel (not strongly) against the usage of this word, but go with the masses.
With lot of good managers(very few) it is the last point,for most of the them it is the 2nd and 3rd. There are very few in the 1st category and they are the ones who cause the most damage.

What am I going to do about this?
This issue of Resource has been troubling me for close to two years now. I talked to many of my friends, colleagues, peers about this, but never raised a voice against this nor gave a thought to what I will do?

I am not going to change the world. I am going to make a small change to myself. It is not an easy task, but let me take a small step forward with my first post of the new decade.Through this post, I want to take a stand that, I will not budge to the pressures of using the term Resource:
  • With any one whom I work with.
  • With my team or any others who report to me or will report to me.
  • In any conversation involving people and their work.
How do you solve this problem?

If you really feel this is a problem take stand now. There is an excellent book called The Mythical Man Month, go please read it to get a perspective on people management in projects. Get a perspective on the difference between a person with good ability and one without.

It takes good amount of work to truly understand and implement the spirit of good people management,except for a minuscule percent, the others tend to take the easier route and that's where the problem lies.

I am taking a step in the right direction are YOU?

Follow me on Twitter: gantir

Liked this Post: Subscribe to the RSS feed to get the posts to you. You have the advantage of getting my deli.cio.us links on the feed.


Anonymous said...

Wish you the best to keep your resolutions. I generally hate the term resource, but might have used it rarely.