Is There Such A Thing as a Non-Technical IT Manager??

There’s been a debate for years about whether there was such a thing as “pure” management. That is, is it possible to take a freshly minted degree in “management” and go “manage” somebody without knowing how to do their jobs. I used to think it was a crazy idea. Of COURSE, you needed to know how people do their jobs in order to manage. Now I’m a bit older…and a bit wiser (might be)…and I think it may not be necessary to know the details, but it sure helps to know some of the basics. The quote below is from the article above,

The other faction believes that IT is just another production function and that line management and general management skills are more important. They want a focus on financial management, budgeting and cost management, on human resources development skills and on the processes by which IT organizations align their portfolios with the needs of the business. For them the content ratio was reversed: 80% (or more) “general” management skills, 20% (or less) IT specifics. They expected the graduates to be able to take many different paths to the CIO role and to be less information technology managers than managers who from time to time manage IT.

Seems that IT managers want to have a “general idea” of what’s happening in their functional area. I have a problem with that.
John Parkinson: Why Business Schools Aren’t Turning Out Good CIO Candidates
The clients we work with that cause themselves the most trouble are those that know enough to get themselves in trouble. They know some buzz words. They have some idea of how the technology works, but because they have no theoretical foundation, they cannot evaluate alternatives, cannot assess new technologies for strategic potential, and cannot tell when vendors are blowing smoke or when they actually have a viable product.
Let me put it even more strongly: I completed all of the Computer Science classes offered at the time I was an undergraduate, spent the next 10 years studing programming technologies, wrote several articles, taught courses, etc. To suggest that it’s possible to “shortcut” this or to get it in 15 hours of a 45 hour MBA or Master’s degree is pure lunacy…better yet, it’s just plain laziness. If you REALLY want to be a CIO, you’ll have to pay the price. And that means that you’ll have to develop some technical competence.
Sorry. Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.