What’s so good about Cornwall?

You know I write a lot of stuff in this blog that represents an; occasionally sideways but pretty much always negative view on the IT industry in Cornwall, and I think I’m qualified to write in that way – I have carved out my career thus far in the county and struggled on through lean times and adversity all the while fighting the good fight in the name of what?  Personal fulfilment, some vague hope that I’m, in some way, working for the betterment of all IT in Cornwall, perhaps just because that’s the way I’ve been taught it should be?

It’s tough to not give up entirely and become all bitter and twisted as the good intentions on that score have tried their utmost to erode away……..

Hang on…..delete delete delete!  I rambled on far too long there spouting heroic undertones that all IT Managers have to undertake, but no, this is intended to be a positive post, I promise!  Sure, we all face challenges in our jobs – mine might not be all that different to yours…..

But as a county Cornwall still waits to play catch up.  I was in (or rather out and about) when the big society change hit the first time – the two final remote bastions of the UK IT wasteland; Scotland and Cornwall were struggling to hold out, and then the northmen were defeated, finally modern thinking arrived and with it a deeper understanding of the IT function and its role in the commercial entity.

And so we sat and waited for the £300 a day contracts to roll in to the South, and commercial acceptance, to really move our industry forward, out from under the protective parenting of the Accounting departments and part-time management and muddled thinking that the IT Department was simply a place that ordered the ink cartridges.

Only it didn’t come.

I recall when the shift occurred in Scotland, and honestly it’s really not just a money thing, there were some seriously large innovation projects and progressive forward momentum, investment and perhaps more importantly understanding – the commercial sector started to get IT and get it right.  The remuneration bit was a natural evolution, I suppose initially set to attract in experts from elsewhere but slowly bleeding out to the general workforce.

It was a widely held thought in Cornwall (certainly amongst my peers in any case) that we’d be next but a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and the whole landscape remains fractured and collectively little progress seems to have been made.

Why is that?  I mean it’s not like we’re a million miles behind, and looking at some of the stuff going on there are signs, there’s some good noises coming out of parts of the county and some innovative and progressive start-ups plying their trade, but boy are there some stinkers too!  And so we appear to remain to preserve of the garden shed industry – and herein lies, I think, one of the biggest parts of the problem.

The work ethic.

You can almost see the parallels to the old school miners – you know, those old Cornish guys who travelled the world over taking their skill to the mines of the world.  They had grit and determination, and you can still see it now commercially.

The only problem is that lost in the determination is the need to engage in joined up working – the concept that everyone pulling together as one is what’s required, yes, I’m actually suggesting that individual work ethic is part of the problem.

Quantify it?  Sure.  Consider twenty employees all working away in silos (remember them?) – three are stars and the rest, well we don’t work with the rest do we?  So the stars crack on, head down, pushing forward whilst the others lose ground. Now.  Would you rather have all twenty moving forward at a more measured pace, progress individually might be slower but collectively……

And this is what we have here in Cornwall.  We have conscience and we have persistence and we have the desire to do good – but it’s still raw and it needs nurturing and more importantly an investment of attention and time as well as a plan.  It needs organisation it needs investment it needs infrastructure (yes BT, I’m looking at you!)

And this……this is where the managers come in!

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THE PERSONAL BLOG OF CORNWALL-BASED COMPANY DIRECTOR // CHRIS RICKARD