The ITocratic Oath of the IT Professional
Inspired recently by discussions on health care, it struck me that the challenges may even be related to the work we perform within IT. IT is essential to the well-being of competitive business today. When delivered professionally, IT nourishes communication, spurs growth, inspires new ideas and promotes good organizational health.
Unfortunately, we have all seen the opposite. Situations where it feels that IT does more harm than good. Problems that we don’t diagnose correctly. Changes that we don’t prescribe in time.
In medicine, the Hippocratic Oath* reminds all medical professionals of the importance of their work AND their duty to uphold professional ethics and standards. I maintain that we IT professionals should establish our own oath. I want my users, customers and society at large to consider my work within IT as supportive, trustworthy and ethical.
Thereby inspired, I submit to you the ITocratic Oath of the IT Professional:
(Please read it standing up with your mouse-hand held over heart)
ITocratic Oath of the IT Professional
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those technicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the user, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and technical nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to IT as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the new upgrade or additional memory.
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues or vendors when the skills of another are needed for user assistance.
I will respect the privacy of my users, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of passwords, internet access, email, favorite devices, as well as life and death. If it is given me to restore a backup, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to delete a user account or data; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a software bug or a hardware failure, but instead an interrupted user whose down-time may affect the user’s company and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the user.
I will prevent down-time whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will protect the environment which sustains us, in the knowledge that the continuing health of ourselves and our societies is dependent on a healthy planet.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the IT users.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of servicing those who seek my help.
*Note – the ITocratic Oath is inspired by Hippocrates and Louis Lasagna. The above version is taken from Lasagna’s 1964 “modern version” which is used by many medical schools today. Only the words in italics have been changed or added.
The phrase “first do no harm” is often attributed to the Hippocratic Oath, but as such is not found therein. Still, I’m the author and get to write what I want. J Not to mention how well the phrase applies to us in IT?