Beware the renegade spreadsheet. (first appeared in InfoWorld) | IS Survivor Publishing

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Beware the renegade spreadsheet. (first appeared in InfoWorld)

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According to many readers, not only is the pen mightier than the sword, but the electronic spreadsheet has more edges and power than either of them. Dozens of you sent me versions of the “renegade spreadsheet” story in response to my April 29th column on the mainframe mentality. The renegade spreadsheet is an unaudited spreadsheet […]

By Bob Lewis | June 3, 1996
Topics: Leadership, Organizational Effectiveness, Policies and Procedures, Technology | 1 Comment »

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According to many readers, not only is the pen mightier than the sword, but the electronic spreadsheet has more edges and power than either of them.

Dozens of you sent me versions of the “renegade spreadsheet” story in response to my April 29th column on the mainframe mentality. The renegade spreadsheet is an unaudited spreadsheet created by a careless end-user that leads to disaster because (a) a customer saw it and took its business elsewhere; (b) the president made a critical decision based on it and ruined the company; or (c) the information in the spreadsheet was uploaded back into the enterprise database, corrupting the data in a way that forever changed the course of history.

While I’m sure renegade spreadsheets (and other end-user-generated disasters) have considerably more substance than urban legends of huge crocodiles in the New York sewers, I’m confident we can come up with better solutions than the preventive steps many IS directors seem to be leaning toward these days.

Here’s the core issue: most of us understand how the notion of management has transformed when it comes to manager/employee relationships: making decisions and directing processes has given way to leading by example, setting goals, coaching on how to be more effective, and attending to team dynamics.

IS manages our organizations’ technology. We need to make the same conceptual shift from control to empowerment here. In a previous column I pointed out the difference between preventing failure and encouraging success. Apply the same philosophy to managing the technology you provide to your end-users.

Here’s a starting point for what we might call an “End-User Computing Manifesto”:

Purchased Applications

End-user Development

Other Stuff

In my experience, policies like these, clearly communicated and consistently enforced, protect corporate resources without stifling end-user creativity. If any of you have additions to this list, send them in and I’ll include them (or at least the ones I like!) in a future column.


One comment on “Beware the renegade spreadsheet. (first appeared in InfoWorld)

  1. Pingback: Revisiting the End-User Computing Manifesto, 10 years later | IS Survivor Publishing

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my photoBob Lewis is a senior management consultant with Dell Services. He has published these columns once a week in one form or another since 1996.

Disclaimer: All opinions, statements, representations, allegations, images (if published) and anything else that appears here is the sole responsibility of the author. Dell has and had nothing to do with it, other than saying it's okay to continue publishing KJR.

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