In the dark ages, your position in an IT organisation was determined by how many systems and people you controlled. This was a useful proxy for money, of course, but the real deal was how big an impact things had when they went wrong. If you were “mission critical”, boy were you safe in your position.
In the middle ages, your position in an IT organisation was determined by how many important relationships with the business you were in charge of. The more directors, and executive directors, and board members rank and file in IT had to get your permission to talk to, the more important you were. This was the age of IT relationship management. Only the specially anointed ones could be trusted to give the “right messages” to the business, and they made sure to reinforce their absolute control of the lines of communication.
In the current age, your position in an IT organisation is directly proportional to how much change you can cause to happen. And people who are seen to be able to “get things done” get asked by everyone around the place to do just that.
This, of course, is very unnerving to the middle ages hierarchy, whose modus operandi (if they wish to ensure they retain their positions) is to make sure no change happens unless they have personally agreed that its “the right thing for the business”. They have to have this say-so, of course, because otherwise, they don’t have any position at all.
And it is doubly unnerving for the dark ages hierarchy, who try to stop all change because they are there to “protect service” or “managing uptime”. For these people, retention of their positions is determined by how good they are at saying no to everything.
Here is an interesting diagnostic question: how happy are you with your prospects for progression in your IT organisation? If you feel stuck at the bottom of the heap, struggling always to get noticed, I bet you work in a dark ages IT hierarchy. Those are places where longevity of service is the only way to progress.
On the other hand, if you’ve got a quite good manager, who cares about you, thanks you for your efforts, but despite everything can’t offer you very much progression you’re likely to be stuck in a middle ages IT hierarchy somewhere. They can’t offer you very much progression, by the way, because it would imply giving up control of some relationships, and that would imply reducing their own positions. Here, your progression is determined by how quickly those above you resign.
My suggestion if you work in either of these kinds of organisations is to take a gamble. Take a gamble on driving change no matter what your managers think. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll be fired. But, lets face it, if you’re wanting a big career in IT, you’ll be leaving anyway for an organisation that wants what you have... is there any downside here, really?