Non-IT People Are Not Muggles & IT People Are Not Wizards

Muggles are non-magical folks or the name wizards and witches in Harry Potter use for them.

This week, I have gotten so many comments at work that have been around how “I thought IT could do that”.   In most cases, they expect a wave of a wand to create the magic instantly without any consideration around the fact that’s not how things work.  No consideration about technologies they are asking for.  No consideration around the fact that not everything a human can do can be reproduced by a computer.

I was in a meeting where someone requested something simple.  Don’t worry, they assured me, I know it won’t take your team but a day or two to do it.  And by the way, there is no ROI.  They have already promised the customer.  They even negotiated the how it would be deployed to them.

They just need us to give them a system – right way.  The front end would be an app that can run on an iPhone and an Android.  Information would be pushed to the app that they can use to answer questions.  It would also be loaded with quizzes that they could take, get a grade, and the results would be sent to us and loaded right into a database allowing us to analyze results and reward those doing well.

“Can’t you just do that like by next week?” I was asked.

I sat there rubbing my forehead as I ran through all of the technology the company has to see if maybe there is something that will work in a way that could be duct taped together.

“Did we stump you?” they chuckled.

I explained honestly that what they were wanting had zero known ROI, involved several different competing technologies, of which, none are in use today in our company business systems, and figure it out by next week is a bit of a challenge given our zero experience.  Then I wondered aloud if they would be ready to do it with their content by that timeline assuming I could make it.

Hell, when all else fails – point out that they aren’t ready either.

“Can you just make it work somehow? I thought technology was magic.”

Yep – it’s magic.

We have capes, magic wands, and got our letters to attend Hogsworth when were turned 11.

(In the end, by the way, they already had 99% of what they needed on the website – the last 1% is easy.  And also, you can do things to make it look like an app on your phone – just need to know the buttons to push.)

Another request was for us to keep something from happening in the system except for when they want it to happen.  Ok. What is that event that lets us know that this time it can happen?

“Oh, I don’t know – you just can’t figure it out?  I thought that’s what IT system could do – just figure it out!”

Another case for getting out the wand.

Would this be a charm or a hex?


I finally wondered aloud if that fact that software has become easier for most people to use has resulted in the fact they assume that easy to use must mean it was easy to make.

As a cohort commented, they like to use Google as an example of simple design and easy to use.  “Just make it like Google.”  Yep, because what you see on the search page is as simple as what is happening behind the scenes.

When I commented that we need more magic wands, the help desk guys piped up “And please get us some extras too.”

Because, I’m a Harry Potter geek – if I get the right wand, I want to expecto patronom a patronus to chase away those who try to suck my life out of me via a meeting or 20 where these stupid ideas come up.

That is a lovely idea.

Solve impossible technology problems with magic and chase away dementors.

Yes, I am a geek.

No, I don’t care.

Mainly because that geekiness that loves Harry Potter is also the geekiness that loves solving problems in technology using reason, logic, and, well, technology.

They are not mutually exclusive.

Except when you want magic to solve technology.

What do you think?

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