I recently read a post that has peeked my interest. Dan over at It ought to be simple posted a write up on IT and how pretensious IT people can be when it comes to dealing with users (or if you are going to be pretensious lusers).
I have to admit that I tend to think he is hitting the nail on the head with this one. In the world you can run into a great number of people some of them good and some of them bad. Some of these people that you run into are people who will have some impact on you and your life. Be they bosses, wives, etc. this second group of people is usually where I classify the users of IT. They have some impact on the life of an IT person in the sense that their feed back and questions and comments more often then not turn into bugs, requirements or reprimands for doing things BADLY in IT.
This doesn't however give IT the right of way to call them idiots or to beraid them when they do something in the system that the system let them do that they really shouldn't be doing. This highlights the problem at its heart for me. IT is really about servicing the users at its core. These users are really what keeps us all in jobs and in business doing what we love, yet at every single turn we treat them as lower then low. This in turn means that IT is not acting professionally as Dan points out. More specifically that IT is not accepting responsibility for the things it does/develops. IT folk attempt to protect themselves by saying things like "That is the way the requirements were defined, blah blah blah" rather then standing up and saying that they didn't think that a given requirement was a good idea and fighting for it to get changed before it gets implemented. If it does get implemented taking some level of responsiblity for it being that way rather then foisting that burden off on someone else. We try to find every way in which to coat ourselves in Teflon and make comments about how we do our job slide right off. This ignors our part and makes us as bad as the people we are denegrating in the first place.
Complacence is death: If we sit idly by and watch thing happen and poke fun at them while we do we really are no better then a good portion of the world watching the Nazis condem an entire race to death. While that might seem to be a harsh comparison - think about it, by calling the users idiots and demeaning them making them part of a "lessor" class and IT as part of a "higher" class we are setting ourselves up for a comparison as such. If that comparison is too strong for you, how about IT is white and users are black? Does that help?
Where we go from here: In the end we have to treat those people like we would want to be treated. I too have worked on both sides of the fence and been in IT as a developer of systems and software and as a user of a different group of IT in terms of machines and infrastructure. We all have a choice of helping, and accepting responsibility in some part for how things are, and like Dan says looking at each call into the IT department as a chance to make something better... to improve the interaction between the users and IT rather then denegrate them and make them into something they are not.