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(Computerworld)   The unspoken truth about managing geeks   (computerworld.com) divider line 240
    More: Obvious, truth  
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25130 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Sep 2009 at 5:20 PM (5 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2009-09-10 05:21:48 PM  
show them the boobies?
 
2009-09-10 05:22:26 PM  
rFarke: show them the boobies?

Damn you...
 
2009-09-10 05:22:46 PM  
Tell them they are smart and give them a cookie.
 
2009-09-10 05:22:46 PM  
I for one represent and support this article (I read it a couple of days ago). We are egocentric, and often elitist, and the more present those "flaws" are in a group, usually the better the group is. Management trying to break the "click" usually destroys the group and I've more than once seen it lead to the downfall of a company.
 
2009-09-10 05:23:25 PM  
Then keep it unspoken, asshole.
I'm not reading 5 pages of blathering geekspeak.
 
2009-09-10 05:26:41 PM  
This is easy. Come off as the super cool guy they envied in High School, and then pretend to be their friend. They get off on the fact that they have a cool friend, and will pretty much take a bullet for you.
 
2009-09-10 05:27:49 PM  
Let them play WoW. It's like catnip+cocaine for them.

They'll never want to take their gelatinous asses to another company.
 
2009-09-10 05:27:49 PM  
Some true words in TFA: Who decides if a doctor is a doctor?

/Still searching for a new job :(
 
2009-09-10 05:28:03 PM  
As a geek manager I can attest that those things are true, but you can manage the undesireable traits out of them if you know what you are doing.

/not that I know what I'm doing
 
2009-09-10 05:28:29 PM  
pecosdave: I for one represent and support this article (I read it a couple of days ago). We are egocentric, and often elitist, and the more present those "flaws" are in a group, usually the better the group is. Management trying to break the "click" usually destroys the group and I've more than once seen it lead to the downfall of a company.

Clicks are made to be broken.
Cliques, on the other hand...
 
2009-09-10 05:29:20 PM  
momalboe: As a geek manager I can attest that those things are true, but you can manage the undesireable traits out of them if you know what you are doing.

/not that I know what I'm doing


Much like she can fix that man.
 
2009-09-10 05:30:04 PM  
Holy hell. This article x 100000000.

Not where I work right now, but yeah I had a job and bad management just like that 12 years ago...
 
2009-09-10 05:32:49 PM  
Depends on the geek. Some of us have actually *earned* our godlike status and respect, TYVM
 
2009-09-10 05:34:19 PM  
1. Don't bullshiat and keep all marketing weasel speak out of your vocabulary.
2. Don't tell them how to fix a problem, define the desired behavior and let them determine the best solution.
3. Give them the tools they need to get done what you ask of them.

I've always found it pretty simple.
 
2009-09-10 05:34:54 PM  
managing geeks?
3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2009-09-10 05:35:19 PM  
FTFA: "Geeks are smart and creative, but they are also egocentric, antisocial, managerially and business-challenged, victim-prone, bullheaded and credit-whoring."

He forgot drunks.
 
2009-09-10 05:35:24 PM  
tuna fingers: Then keep it unspoken, asshole.
I'm not reading 5 pages of blathering geekspeak.


Hey! My old boss is here!
 
2009-09-10 05:36:28 PM  
That was a really great article - I'm pleasantly surprised.
 
2009-09-10 05:37:49 PM  
Rule 1: Stay the hell out of their road
Rule 2: Get the hell in their road
Rule 3: Know when to apply Rule's 1 and 2
 
2009-09-10 05:39:17 PM  
Let them do whatever they want, because they are capable of bringing your system to its KNEES (see Jurassic Park).
 
2009-09-10 05:39:34 PM  
(Rule 4: because if you can't do Rule 3, you can probably be replaced by a shell script)
 
2009-09-10 05:40:18 PM  
momalboe: you can manage the undesireable traits out of them if you know what you are doing.

You can manage them into not showing you their undesirable traits. If you think having geeks exclude you/lie to you is better than them showing "undesirable traits" I guess that's a win, but I doubt it's a way to run an effective and efficient group of geeks.
 
2009-09-10 05:40:35 PM  
RoxtarRyan: FTFA: "Geeks are smart and creative, but they are also egocentric, antisocial, managerially and business-challenged, victim-prone, bullheaded and credit-whoring."

He forgot drunks.


I've found that to be a variable. Sure it hits the 70% mark or better, but I've found a bunch that are not.
 
2009-09-10 05:40:36 PM  
If every manager in the world knew this one tidbit, I think the world would be a better place:

Credit whoring -- IT pros would prefer to make a good decision than to get credit for it. What will make them seek credit is the danger that a member of the group or management who is dangerous to the process might receive the credit for the work instead.

Also, this article is pure gold.
 
zez
2009-09-10 05:41:16 PM  
www.craphound.com
 
2009-09-10 05:41:35 PM  
vossiewulf: 1. Don't bullshiat and keep all marketing weasel speak out of your vocabulary.
2. Don't tell them how to fix a problem, define the desired behavior and let them determine the best solution.
3. Give them the tools they need to get done what you ask of them.

I've always found it pretty simple.


Do you realize how anathema this is to most management types?
1) Weasels are wise and speak wisdom.
2) Micromanagement is the only way to get things done.
3) Tools cost money, and they're not that important anyway.

/cynical? me?
 
2009-09-10 05:42:30 PM  
Evil Twin Skippy: Depends on the geek. Some of us have actually *earned* our godlike status and respect, TYVM

This. I am not an IT guy, a *simple* EE/CpE is all. But yeah, I consider it to be a privilege for my minions/coworkers when I arrive at work too.
 
2009-09-10 05:43:31 PM  
I'm an IT guy and I'm really..

I found this article relevant, accurate and enjoyable. Nice find, subs.
 
2009-09-10 05:43:53 PM  
best article I have every seen written about managing IT.

Of course, the IT organization at my company is the best I have ever worked with.

From top to bottom, they are consummate experts in their field, bright, creative, fun to hang out with

/why yes, I am the only IT employee at my company, why do you ask?
 
2009-09-10 05:45:31 PM  
BillFalcon:
I'm an IT guy and I'm really..

I found this article relevant, accurate and enjoyable. Nice find, subs.


I suspected it would be received well here.
 
2009-09-10 05:46:20 PM  
Free food. All geeks love free food. Toss them the occasional donuts, pizza, beer, etc and they will love you forever.

/geek
 
2009-09-10 05:46:31 PM  
Now if we could find an article on how to manage a geek in a relationship... that would be awesome.
 
2009-09-10 05:46:56 PM  
Give them bacon? (new window)
 
2009-09-10 05:47:09 PM  
vossiewulf: 1. Don't bullshiat and keep all marketing weasel speak out of your vocabulary.
2. Don't tell them how to fix a problem, define the desired behavior and let them determine the best solution.
3. Give them the tools they need to get done what you ask of them.

I've always found it pretty simple.


You are absolutely correct. Been doing IT in general, mostly network admin and tech support, for about 15 years now. Weasel-words or marketing speak instantly set off my BS detector, and make me wary. About 90% of people who use them consistently are sales reps or corporate suits, and when they attempt to steer technical decisions, the entire system is in for a world of hurt.

You would think 2 and 3 were obvious, but for some reason the last three places I have worked have requested vaguely defined technical work with no funding to support it. I'm a pretty decent scrounger and troubleshooter, but I can't problem-solve with no parameters or cash.
 
2009-09-10 05:47:49 PM  
2Horses: Now if we could find an article on how to manage a geek in a relationship... that would be awesome.

That's easy. Let them have alone time in a geek cave.
 
2009-09-10 05:48:05 PM  
The number one thing the writer cites is "respect" as their currency in trade. Whereas the rest of thrive on being shat upon daily.

Ridiculous.

Their all-too-obvious craving for respect, and the accompanying arrogance, is exactly what puts so many people off.

I'm good at what I do but I don't expect you to bow to my "extensible skill set."

Our last IT guy smelled like a keg of whiskey anytime you were within five feet of him. Yeah, very impressive and worthy of the utmost respect.

For the most part they're worker bees with delusions of grandeur.
 
2009-09-10 05:48:07 PM  
I'd like to add that most of this applies to us science & engineering folk, too.
 
2009-09-10 05:48:33 PM  
Pooter: That was a really great article - I'm pleasantly surprised.

This. It's like I was reading my Myers-Briggs personality test results all over again. Thanks, subby.
 
2009-09-10 05:49:30 PM  
weiserfireman: /why yes, I am the only IT employee at my company, why do you ask?

The trouble with that is you can't blame anything on Tibor.
 
2009-09-10 05:50:26 PM  
AnubisMan: This is easy. Come off as the super cool guy they envied in High School, and then pretend to be their friend. They get off on the fact that they have a cool friend, and will pretty much take a bullet for you.

Don't fool yourself, Biff. They're just trying to get enough info off you to steal your identity and empty your bank account.
 
2009-09-10 05:50:33 PM  
Just pretend they're dwarves. Inscrutable, surly dwarves that have no desire to meddle in the frivolous affairs of men. Supply them with ale and leave them to their work.
 
2009-09-10 05:50:41 PM  
AnubisMan: This is easy. Come off as the super cool guy they envied in High School, and then pretend to be their friend. They get off on the fact that they have a cool friend, and will pretty much take a bullet for you.

Except the "super cool guy they envied in High School" is stupid and therefore must be ignored, used, and eventually removed. The "bullet" they take for you is to stop someone else from giving you the easy way out.
 
2009-09-10 05:50:56 PM  
I came for IT crowd references and I am leaving happy.

What sort of people will I be working with?
STANDARD NERDS!
 
2009-09-10 05:51:05 PM  
It applies to anyone whose job demands that things work logically.

Which is why we suck at relationships -- those things work emotionally, which is usually illogical :)

Which is why we hate office politics -- those things work on pure bs.
 
2009-09-10 05:51:06 PM  
...egocentric, antisocial, managerially and business-challenged, victim-prone, bullheaded and credit-whoring.

I work in game development and this describes our customers to a T.
 
2009-09-10 05:52:07 PM  
vossiewulf: 1. Don't bullshiat and keep all marketing weasel speak out of your vocabulary.
2. Don't tell them how to fix a problem, define the desired behavior and let them determine the best solution.
3. Give them the tools they need to get done what you ask of them.

I've always found it pretty simple.


I like this.

Also, caffeine. Give the geeks caffeine and they will be less cranky.
 
2009-09-10 05:53:03 PM  
I'm really bored. You know how bored you get when work's going on and on and on, and nothing interesting is happening, and you're listening to a radio that picks up ONE station on FM, and it's always the station with the least records in the city, about 5, and one of them is "You're so Vain" which wasn't too bad a song until you hear it about 3 times a day for a year, and *EVERY* time it plays, the announcer tells you it's about Warren Beaty and who he's currently poking, someone you'll never sniff the toe-jam of, let alone meet, let alone get amourous with. And EVERY time someone mentions Warren Beaty, someone says that he used to go out with Madonna too, and have you seen "In Bed With.."

AND THEN, someone ELSE will say "It wasn't really about Warren Beaty, it was James Taylor" and the first person will say "What, `In bed with Madonna?'", and they laugh and everyone else laughs, and I slip out the Magnum from under the desk where I keep it in case someone laughs at a joke that's so dry it's got a built in water-fountain, and blow the lot of them away as a community Service. I figure that I'll get time off my sentence if I ever kill someone by accident who's got a life.

So visitors are getting pretty thin at the moment, and the Quick-Lime Pits are filling up rapidly, and all I've got to do is the full backups and maybe I can go home.

So, to relieve the boredom, I get some iron filings and pour them into the back of my Terminal until it fizzes out (Which doesn't take all that long, surprisingly enough), then call our maintenance contractors and log a fault on the device. Sometimes they'll send someone who knows what they're doing, but it's a lot more fun when they don't - which is about 98% of the time.

So they maintenance guy comes in, and I can tell he's NEW because the photo on his ID actually LOOKS like him, not like the head engineer, whose photo's a black and white tin-type (he's that old).

Maintenance Contractors always dress up nice, with a tie and everything because they believe that a customer will trust a nicely dressed guy with their million dollar equipment *just* because he's got a nice tie..

Because he's NEW and ALONE, he's what you call an appeasement engineer, the new guy they send so they respond within the 4 hour guaranteed response period. (Things are getting better and better) Your average appeasement engineer is about as clued-up on computers as the average computer "hacker" is about B.O, and their main job is to make sure the power plug is in and switched on, then call back to the office for "PARTS". The really keen ones will sometimes even take a cover off the equipment and pretend that they see this stuff all the time. I wonder what sort today's is...

"You got a dud terminal?" he asks pleasantly

I tell him yeah, and bring him into the control room.

"Which one is it?" he asks, confused by the fact that only one of them is smoking.

"It's the Model Three" I say, giving NOTHING away.

"Ah, the old model three!" he says knowingly, without a clue what a model three is, or which one of the three terminals it is, which isn't surprising, as I just made it up.

"We get a lot of Model Three problems" he says nodding "So what actually happened?"

Sneaky, but not good enough. I'm not going to point it out to him.

"It just went dead" I say, in luser mode.

"I see. Could you just recreate what you were doing so I can check the unit out when it's ready for operation?"

Very Sneaky. I decide to let him off the hook.

"Look, I've got to go to the toilet, there it is over there" I say, pointing at our Waffle-Iron.

"But that's a Wa..." He says, then stops. He's a beginner, and it's just possible that the company has a line of terminals that look like waffle irons. He bites.

"Sorry" he says, smiling again "for a minute there I thought it was a Model 2!"

A reasonably good save, but it won't save him. "Huh, it's nothing like a model 2! *THAT'S* the model 2" I say, pointing to the expresso machine.

He nods and I leave, which means he's got to take the iron to bits, otherwise he knows I won't believe he's worked on it. I give him a couple of minutes to get the element exposed then wander back in.

"So how does it look?" I ask, concerned-like.

"Well, I think we could have a processor problem.." he says concentrating on prying the element up.

..concentrating so much that he doesn't notice me plugging the iron in.

"Shouldn't you be wearing an earthing strap?" I ask innocently.

When he thinks I can't see, he creeps his hand over to the wiring frame and says "Well, It's just as easy to hold onto earth like this"

"But what about the risk of a cross-the-body shock with no resistor in series with you?" I ask ever-so-more-innocently

"Oh, it's ok" he says "the unit's unplug..."

>clickBZZZZZZZEEERRT!clunk!
I ring the maintenance help-desk again...

It's Rhonda

"Hey Ronda!, Ah, I'm going to need another engineer and a new Waffle Iron over here; for some reason your engineer opened up my Waffle Iron without switching it off." I say

Rhonda knows me. It's the third call and the third appeasement engineer this year. You'd think they'd learn.

"You're a real prick" she says, annoyed

"Tell ya what Rhonda, why don't you come and fix it; it's a Model Three..."
 
2009-09-10 05:54:35 PM  
ChubbyTiger: I'd like to add that most of this applies to us science & engineering folk, too.

Good hard science people are geeks. Its only a matter of specialization. Your toys usually aren't as blinky, but the extensive knowledge they require, as well as the creative mentality, are highly respected among IT folks.

One of my good friends is an organic chemist, and another is an astrophysicist. I find talking with them to be very rewarding, and the knowledge they trade with me is worth every second of time.
 
2009-09-10 05:55:14 PM  
Insomnambulant: The number one thing the writer cites is "respect" as their currency in trade. Whereas the rest of thrive on being shat upon daily.

Ridiculous.

Their all-too-obvious craving for respect, and the accompanying arrogance, is exactly what puts so many people off.

I'm good at what I do but I don't expect you to bow to my "extensible skill set."

Our last IT guy smelled like a keg of whiskey anytime you were within five feet of him. Yeah, very impressive and worthy of the utmost respect.

For the most part they're worker bees with delusions of grandeur.


I read your email biatch!
 
2009-09-10 05:55:18 PM  
vossiewulf: 2. Don't tell them how to fix a problem, define the desired behavior and let them determine the best solution.

Farking this! Nothing pisses me off more than non-technical managers telling me how to fix a problem without understanding why the problem occurs.

As a corollary: If we say it can't be done, don't attempt to get it done by telling us how to do it. For the most part, we understand the limitations of the tools we're using. If we say no, it's probably because:
- It can't be done with the tools we use
- It can't be done period. If a problem is NP-complete, describing it with different buzz-words won't suddenly solve the problem
- It can be done but will require so much effort and redirected resources that it's not feasible
 
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