The First Line Manager: Computers

I purchased my first computer in 1985. I saved up to buy this computer. I read a book on DOS 2.1 a couple of years earlier. I would learn about computers. The IBM PC Junior cost me $635.00. At this time, employees in my company worked at terminals connected to a mainframe computer in a central location. There were two IBM AT type computers in our division. One was actually used. An engineer told me I wasted my money on the computer; we would never use personal computers at work.

The programs on my computer in 1985 are gone now. Programs like, lotus, dBase, and Word Star. Now, I have in my home, a Dell desktop computer, an IMAC, a dell portable, and an IPAD2. I use each computer for my Emily and Jim web page, my first line manager blog, and my Beta Theta Pi chapter web page. I use Dreamweaver and Frontpage to build and add to my web pages. I have U-tube and Face book accounts.

Today, at work employees are effective because we have a computer on our desk. The computer expands the capabilities of each employee. That is, each employee with computer knowledge. We have no mainframe but we have hundreds of file servers. It is a world never imagined by that engineer in 1985.

Over the years I came to understand that most computer program logic is the similar. The new programs function on the same logical basis. The bells and whistles are different. Data base management is a good example. I constructed my house and placed all the material purchases in a dbase file. I created a file and a record for each item. This took a while. The next house I built was the same plan. I printed the bid sheets for materials from the dbase file. This made the bid process quick and easy. Now, I use Excel or Obivent for data base management at work and home. The same principles and logic of these new programs work simular to dbase. A record is a record.

Computer understanding is crucial for effective management of time and material. Using statistical analysis of data is the key for managing cost, and monitoring processes. First line managers must develop this computer knowledge. At least, to the point they can tell a computer analyst the statistics they need out of the vast amount of data their department creates daily. The statistics that measure their department’s effectiveness. Statistics that do not help the manager measure performance is a waste of time for the manager and the analyst.

A computer program is not flexible; it can only do certain functions. In 1985, I got out the basic programming disk that came with the PC Junior. I will learn how to program. I begin the simple process to make the computer to make a bell ringing sound. This process took several lines of syntax. I think I got it. I run the program and nothing happens. I check each line. Make corrections several times. Then, finally, the program works. The computer goes, “ding.” I put the disk back in the box. That is the last time I program any process into a computer. I learned that the computer can only do what a programmer can make it do. The programming process is very structured and complicated. This is valuable to me, I tell the programmer what I want; she says it cannot be done. I understand; we go at the process within the limits of what the programmer states is possible.

This is the point; effective first line managers need an understanding of computer use and capabilities. As programs change, managers must invest the time to understand the new programs. Getting caught in the past in computer time is like becoming an outdated machine. We put that machine in a closet until we get the time to carry it to the junkyard.