Busyness does not equal good outcome in IT support

This month Harvard Business Review (#hbr) has an article on busyness where prof. Adam Waytz takes up the topic that corporate world promotes and maintains the expectation that being busy equals doing good work, and that people consider those who exert high effort to be “morally admirable”, regardless of the output. This relationship busyness – good output is not obvious. Also Nora Rosendahl from Hintsa pointed out in her research that there are multiple aspects to busyness which may result in unwanted effects. This made me think of some recent experiences around IT Support. Translated into the IT Operations world busyness could translate into quickly responding to new tickets that users create. And for sure most managed service contracts have this “response SLA” concept. Within how many minutes will the service provider react once a ticket is created? This in itself is a good thing. Yet what happens when IT support staff picks up too many tickets and tries to work with them in parallel? What customers care about is to be heard (hence the response SLA) , and more importantly, the resolution of their ticket. The good outcome achievement (not half a solution) . Here the IT Service industry in their contracts often is a lot more vague. Claiming varying degree of complexity, factors outside the control of the service provider (e.g. dependent on 3rd party), most often the best of what service contracts include are SLO’s, service level objectives, for resolution of the issue.

How is the customer helped with that? Is it really the complexity of the system landscape that delays the resolution of issues, or does also the culture of “busyness is good” have a part to play? Could it be that distributing your time to a multitude of different tasks impacts the quality of each task?
The concept of “deep work” by Cal Newport is a contra-movement advocating that people focus on 1 task for longer time, and there get things done. The HBR article states that beyond the psychological factors the major cause of busyness are constraints on time and resources. Are there enough resources allocated to the tasks at hand, so IT support members are enabled to do deep work?
It will be interesting to see when the world of IT-support and IT operations management starts to pick up that concept of deep work, stops conflating activity with achievement and what positive impact it will have on issue resolution, and thus customer satisfaction.