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(Computerworld)   The unspoken truth about managing geeks   (computerworld.com) divider line 240
    More: Obvious, truth  
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25125 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 09:32:53 PM  
2Horses: Now if we could find an article on how to manage a geek in a relationship... that would be awesome.

Let them get their geek on. If he's into comics, don't tell them they're childish. If she's addicted to to WoW, let her raid.

/I'm a geek
//BF is too
///very lucky that way I guess
 
2009-09-10 09:33:13 PM  
Generalizations never go well in either direction, do they?
 
2009-09-10 09:36:32 PM  
An IT person's best skill has nothing to do with IT.

/think about it...
 
2009-09-10 09:36:48 PM  
That was actually a decent article. I've seen a few companies that would still be worth something, or still in business, if their management took that advice.

Bonus question: why is there no article titled "The Unspoken Truth About Managing Lawyers"?

/hint: CEOs are accustomed to regarding attorney advice as sacrosanct but wish that geek advice could be ignored at will, because they think they can exert social dominance over geeks
//bonus lesson: they can, at their own peril
 
2009-09-10 09:37:41 PM  
"sure haven't" has never worked with a professional IT team.

Unfortunately, for every professional IT team, there are at least 2 teams of IT asshats who have no idea what they're doing but just manage to hack enough crap together to keep their jobs. This ensures they keep their jobs and that any further hires are also asshats because professionals would rather work in a professional environment, and either won't take the job or won't stay long.
 
2009-09-10 09:39:30 PM  
ferrocene: An IT person's best skill has nothing to do with IT.

/think about it...


Very true. And honestly, it tends to be of a grab bag of off-shoot skills, in my experience.
 
2009-09-10 09:41:43 PM  
StaleCoffee: hairywoogit: 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.

Frictionless. Touch base. Proactive. Incentivize. E-Enable. Real time. Vertical. Solution. Downsize. Synergy. Metrics. Value added. Alignment. In the pipe.


We used to have a game in the office I used to work in. Before going to a meeting we would right all those "office terms" on small sheets of paper. Shuffle them up and hand them out to ourselves. When we heard one of those words that were in our hand we would check it off. Once one of us had all of our words called you had to jump up and yell "BULLshiat".

/my boss was indian...and 24. He had no goddamned clue.
/ F.U. Pritesh
 
2009-09-10 09:45:54 PM  
Is there a reason to put up with absolute arrogance though? Can't you guys reel that shiat back in a little bit?

Not all IT are like that but some are ... and it's often clear that outside the IT realm those arrogant types have little claim to superiority at all in any other area ... makes it a biatchafing when we have to bow down before our computer overlords.
 
2009-09-10 09:45:57 PM  
Bonzo_1116: I feel sad for the IT folk who work in companies where they are the only "technical" people.

I've worked in biotech/medical device companies for 15 years now, and all the IT people have been helpful and engaged in their work. Not much of the arrogance noted in the article or this thread. Maybe it comes from the IT dudes being able to have more interesting problems to deal with than just "It won't print!", and being able to have a technical discussion that wouldn't make the other person's eyes glaze over. It's gotta be lonely for IT when the closest thing to a tech oriented department is accounting.

And as for the person upthread who said that the IT guy could do the job of anyone in the company inside of a week...well, I'm guessing you aren't working someplace with synthetic chemists, immunologists, opera signers, etc etc.


But as TFA addresses, true geeks (i.e. the ones you'd want working for you) have innate respect for the expertise of others. It's just such a new category of professional expertise that it doesn't get the respect that it deserves.

In major corporations, internal legal counsel are a major pipeline to top executive positions. So are sales and accounting. Quite wrongly, there just isn't the perception that any nerds can make the same jump, and it's to the detriment of every company that thinks this way.

Look at every major successful silicon valley firm. You will see a geek at the helm for a long time, and some decline when there are no geeks with major pull in the top echelon. Apple, Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon, Ebay, Yahoo, Craigslist, etc, etc, etc.

But even organizations like hospitals, insurance companies, etc would benefit from having technically literate executives with a role valued higher than, say, dining services or facilities management. Companies that think like that will die, or deserve to.

The caveat is they have to be geeks with business-oriented, strategic thinking (technology is a tool, not an end), but that goes for the lawyers and other specialists, too.
 
2009-09-10 09:46:00 PM  
floor_guy
We used to have a game in the office I used to work in. Before going to a meeting we would right all those "office terms" on small sheets of paper. Shuffle them up and hand them out to ourselves. When we heard one of those words that were in our hand we would check it off. Once one of us had all of our words called you had to jump up and yell "BULLshiat".

We used the Bingo card posted above to do the same thing. It was amazing, someone would always win.
 
2009-09-10 09:48:35 PM  
Also, if you're "career" is fixing computers, you don't have a career. You have a job. That only requires an A+ (if even that).

Design the next bit torrent protocol if you're so freaking smart.

/going back to school
//will never do tech support again
 
2009-09-10 09:48:39 PM  
sure haven't: 1) Call them on their bullshiat.

Good idea. Makes sure the person talking knows what they're talking about or is honest enough to say he doesn't know.

2) Don't make small talk.

Good idea. We have better things to do than talking about the weather or worrying about how Stacy in marketing will read our tersely worded email.

3) Nice doesn't work. Being nice gets you attitude. Saying things like what the fark is your problem is honestly much more productive.

Another good, if rudely worded, idea. Nice clouds true meaning. When you're working with ones and zeros, clarity is best.

It's like when my wife asks me to do something. Yesterday she kept asking me "Did you take the garbage cans back?" And I kept replying "No."

What she really meant was "Take the garbage cans back." But she was nice about it, and I didn't understand.
 
2009-09-10 09:49:36 PM  
-you're +your
 
2009-09-10 09:50:32 PM  
suziequzie: 2Horses: Now if we could find an article on how to manage a geek in a relationship... that would be awesome.

Let them get their geek on. If he's into comics, don't tell them they're childish. If she's addicted to to WoW, let her raid.

/I'm a geek
//BF is too
///very lucky that way I guess


This. If your geek is a geek now, he/she will remain so whether you're dating or not. Keep that in mind & don't try to change him/her. I was not a geek when I first met my Trekkie/comic-book obsessed husband. I wasn't into it but I never stopped him from indulging. But then something odd happened. Slowly, the geekiness crept into me like some insidious virus, to the point where I was not just reading comic books & watching Star Trek, I was now even dressing up in costume at conventions & movie premieres.

So not only let him/her get their geek on, give it a try yourself. It's not so bad.

/Come over to the Dark Side
//We have cookies.
 
Juc
2009-09-10 09:51:16 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.


That's one of the best troll posts I've read in a while.

High-five.

10/10

would read again.
 
2009-09-10 09:52:50 PM  
brigid_fitch: /Come over to the Dark Side
//We have cookies.


Hell, you got geek cred just by quoting that. :)
 
2009-09-10 09:53:36 PM  
Egalitarian: Not all IT are like that but some are ... and it's often clear that outside the IT realm those arrogant types have little claim to superiority at all in any other area ... makes it a biatchafing when we have to bow down before our computer overlords.

Look at it from their perspective: They catch hell from their overlords if the computers break down. And depending on their level of skill and what their overlords allow them to purchase, they might be dealing with a bunch of spinning plates.

So, yeah, they're going to be a little pissed if you ask for something that upsets that balance because they could catch flack for it.
 
2009-09-10 09:56:08 PM  
We have an Executive Director at the place I work at that makes his programmers... pause for emphasis: makes. his. programmers. ....name the decision-making routine they write in any program "TRAFFIC-COP". I shiat you not. Straight out of Programming 101. Oh, by the way, this guy is also short.

No compensating there at all, nope.
 
2009-09-10 09:57:09 PM  
brigid_fitch: So not only let him/her get their geek on, give it a try yourself. It's not so bad.

Mur Lafferty wrote a great article on how what separates geeks from other people is fun. They haven't lost a childlike concept of fun.
 
2009-09-10 09:58:14 PM  
phlegmmo: We have an Executive Director at the place I work at that makes his programmers... pause for emphasis: makes. his. programmers. ....name the decision-making routine they write in any program "TRAFFIC-COP". I shiat you not. Straight out of Programming 101.

I took Comp Sci 101 twice and I never heard of TRAFFIC-COP.
 
2009-09-10 09:59:34 PM  
The Icelander:
phlegmmo: We have an Executive Director at the place I work at that makes his programmers... pause for emphasis: makes. his. programmers. ....name the decision-making routine they write in any program "TRAFFIC-COP". I shiat you not. Straight out of Programming 101.

I took Comp Sci 101 twice and I never heard of TRAFFIC-COP.


How long have you been in IT? This goes back decades.
 
2009-09-10 10:07:47 PM  
Englebert Slaptyback

I've certainly never been a help desk droid worker, which seems to be what you're describing.

Have you ever thought about why the companies perceive you the way they do? That might be a good start.


Actually, I'm a senior network engineer. Of course that means absolutely nothing to anyone outside of IT. (try mentioning that as your job sometime. You either get people who think you build cars, or goes "uhhh...Kompyuuuters?", or more often than not, utter, blank stares.) I know computers, therefore I can FIX THINGS!!!!

Also doesn't hurt that I'm happily approachable, and am one of those (apparently) rare techs that can explain issues in a way non-techs can understand
 
2009-09-10 10:07:53 PM  
The Icelander:
I took Comp Sci 101 twice and I never heard of TRAFFIC-COP.

This is a simplistic way decision-making code was described a long time ago. "You have logic going through the program and you have to go to the traffic cop to tell you what direction to take." It's no more than a way for a novice programmer to conceptualize the idea of decision-making - that's it. And yet this clown latched onto it in his early days of programming and never got beyond it.
 
2009-09-10 10:11:18 PM  
I have never heard of the traffic cop analogy. FOO, yes. BAR, of course. "Hello, world!", certainly. Traffic Cop, never.
 
2009-09-10 10:12:27 PM  
phlegmmo: How long have you been in IT? This goes back decades.

Took Comp Sci in the Fall of 2000 and the spring of 2002 and never heard of this concept. Granted, it was C++ both times, so we had the benefit of if/else and switch statements.
 
2009-09-10 10:14:30 PM  
The Icelander: phlegmmo: How long have you been in IT? This goes back decades.

Took Comp Sci in the Fall of 2000 and the spring of 2002 and never heard of this concept. Granted, it was C++ both times, so we had the benefit of if/else and switch statements.


Why did an IT guy have to take compsci 101 *twice*?
 
2009-09-10 10:16:59 PM  
sure haven't: Interesting article. Doesn't change the fact that most IT people are just whiny little biatches who have no clue how to act in the big boy's world.

I also don't get this idolization towards them. Someone posted above something to the effect that if you mess with them, you'll be "sor-ry".
Honestly what is that? They work in a professional environment. This isn't a WoW game. You can't act pushy and childish and bratty and expect people to like you or respect you.

No I couldn't do their job, but guess what, they sure as fark couldn't do my job either. The only difference is I don't act like a farking child when things go wrong. Oh and I also don't blame every single other person except myself.

I've found there are three ways to deal with IT retards:

1) Call them on their bullshiat.
2) Don't make small talk.
3) Nice doesn't work. Being nice gets you attitude. Saying things like what the fark is your problem is honestly much more productive.

And no this is not a troll. Save your hilarious "1/10" comments.


/opinions formed from 7 years of working with IT "professionals"


You sound fat like yer in sales.

Here's a riveting thought (which seems like it would be a novelty for you): how many times have you said "what the fark is your problem" about the same problem? It's okay, you don't really need to answer that as anyone who's in IT or one of the aforementioned geeks knows where I'm going with this.

You walk into my office like an asshole and start with that bullshiat, yep you'll instantly cow me and get the service you demand and so clearly respect...when hell freezes over. Come to the door, explain the problem and ask when you can expect it to be fixed...and do it without the load of assholishness you so adroitly exhibit here, yeah, you'll probably do fine. Nobody steps into your office and slaps dicks out of your mouth while you're "busy"...why come to our office acting like douchenozzle while WE'RE at work?

Arrogance and ignorance...that's a real winning combination you got there sparky. Keep it up.
 
2009-09-10 10:17:19 PM  
re: Traffic Cop -

Go back 35 years. We're talking early programming. That's what makes his obsession beyond laughable.
 
2009-09-10 10:19:17 PM  
Englebert Slaptyback: A garbageman knows more about collecting garbage than I do: this does not constitute a 'win' for the trash guy.

It does when the trash guys all say "fark You!" and stop picking it up. Your computers function/"Communications" services are a damn sight more critical than trash...
 
2009-09-10 10:22:40 PM  
Damn Man: Englebert Slaptyback: A garbageman knows more about collecting garbage than I do: this does not constitute a 'win' for the trash guy.

It does when the trash guys all say "fark You!" and stop picking it up. Your computers function/"Communications" services are a damn sight more critical than trash...


Yeah, you'll be needing the 'net to google the waste dept, and email your complaint to the city.

/In a fair world lawyers would get paid the same as garbage men. They're both dealing with other people's stanky crap.
 
2009-09-10 10:23:51 PM  
Bonzo_1116: Why did an IT guy have to take compsci 101 *twice*?

First was when I was in Comp Sci Engineering. I got a D. (8AM class in my first semester freshman year. Not a good idea.)

Second time was because I got a D the first time and needed at least a B to get credits. (Got an A.)
 
2009-09-10 10:24:06 PM  
Bonzo_1116: The Icelander: phlegmmo: How long have you been in IT? This goes back decades.

Took Comp Sci in the Fall of 2000 and the spring of 2002 and never heard of this concept. Granted, it was C++ both times, so we had the benefit of if/else and switch statements.

Why did an IT guy have to take compsci 101 *twice*?


I love school, go for classes every chance I get. I will repeat classes with different instructors if I can, because most college instructors have interesting bits they are happy to share with students. I took OOP with C++ three times with three different instructors, and got an A each time. Learned something new each time too. I actually miss programming, but the demand for it where I live now is non-existent, so I do system admin instead.
 
2009-09-10 10:38:48 PM  
drunkenachura.files.wordpress.com

/hot
 
2009-09-10 10:43:50 PM  
I never heard of traffic-cop either (sounds like COBOL'ey for some reason), but that's OK, I got started on a Sinclair ZX80 that had to be soldered together from a bag of parts, if that dates me any...
 
2009-09-10 10:45:36 PM  
I work in IT and I have no pants on!
 
2009-09-10 10:46:03 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.


This goes for most workers in specialized fields. not only IT, but construction, sciences, mechanics, anything that the bean counters don't understand.
 
2009-09-10 10:46:17 PM  
The Icelander: Bonzo_1116: Why did an IT guy have to take compsci 101 *twice*?

First was when I was in Comp Sci Engineering. I got a D. (8AM class in my first semester freshman year. Not a good idea.)

Second time was because I got a D the first time and needed at least a B to get credits. (Got an A.)


I got a straight one semester--one of each letter grade. It was fantastic.

/had to take quantum over again. blurgh.
 
2009-09-10 10:49:34 PM  
One short phrase: BOFH
 
2009-09-10 10:50:32 PM  
Mike:
I never heard of traffic-cop either (sounds like COBOL'ey for some reason), but that's OK, I got started on a Sinclair ZX80 that had to be soldered together from a bag of parts, if that dates me any...

I'm pretty sure that's where he got it. It's bad enough being stuck in that mindset, but to be so attached to that particular concept that everyone under him has to give their routines that name is borderline pychotic.
 
2009-09-10 11:15:50 PM  
cdn2.knowyourmeme.com

/Ok it was a good article, though.
 
2009-09-10 11:20:36 PM  
Garm: Tartan69: Uh, every single IT person? Maybe the problem isn't them. I'm sensing a trend.

How does that Demotivator poster go? The only common element in all your dysfunctional relationships is you.


Excellent call, Garm. +100. I'm gonna go find that poster now that you've reminded me of it and post it in honor of sure haven't
 
2009-09-10 11:22:33 PM  
Geeks. Go and read Michael Marshall Smith's "More Tomorrow". Great horror story starring an IT guy.

/I'm a horror geek
 
2009-09-10 11:23:59 PM  
Found it:

site.despair.com
 
2009-09-10 11:25:44 PM  
nochange: Unfortunately, for every professional IT team, there are at least 2 teams of IT asshats who have no idea what they're doing but just manage to hack enough crap together to keep their jobs. This ensures they keep their jobs and that any further hires are also asshats because professionals would rather work in a professional environment, and either won't take the job or won't stay long.

This.

Worked with some brilliant IT people and some absolute morons. Unfortunately, the latter always act like as if they deserve the respect earned by the former.

The worst in my experience is the condescending "gate keeper" types who still think it's the 80s and that everyone else looks at computers as mysterious-magic-boxes.

It's possible that the person directing the IT geek to do something, actually knows what the fark they're talking about. Furthermore, they'd be happy to do it themselves, but some geek with a massive insecurity complex removed access in order to make themselves indispensible.
 
2009-09-10 11:37:00 PM  
GomezAdams
One short phrase: BOFH

Etherkillers should be mandatory.
 
2009-09-10 11:37:55 PM  
tuna fingers: Then keep it unspoken, asshole.
I'm not reading 5 pages of blathering geekspeak.


Bingo
 
2009-09-10 11:40:35 PM  
IT Dept, you are at best a semi-mobile gelatinous password. Being the designated dipshiats in charge of scooping the coupon spyware out of the receptionist's PC, doesn't make you exceptionally intelligent or creative. BTW there is a reason no one that doesn't already work for this company is ever supposed to see you. No, I never work at home, I always go to the trouble of bringing my laptop home so that I can be sure you don't get your meddling paws on it. Thanks in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Tech Support Dept.
 
Juc
2009-09-10 11:48:08 PM  
Occulto: The worst in my experience is the condescending "gate keeper" types who still think it's the 80s and that everyone else looks at computers as mysterious-magic-boxes.

I work in a company that makes software and you wouldn't believe how many people who work for us that actually do treat computers as magic boxes.

And half of them can destroy a PC without knowing how.

One guy I worked with some how f'd up his master boot record by moving his PC across the room. BY MOVING HIS PC ACROSS THE ROOM? He unplugged the cables, properly, picked up the box gently, carefully moved it across the room, and plugged the cables back correctly and then we found out by doing this he somehow destroyed the master boot record. My thought is that he's a living EMP. (it's not the first time he somehow destroyed electronics with some weird voodoo curse that was placed upon him)

We had a rule imposed upon us by IT stating we're not allowed to move our hardware shortly after the 3rd time someone accidentally destroyed their PC.

Actually some people here don't even know how to use coffee machines, and we make software, really really good software, so you'd think these fellows would be good at picking up anything that has a logical process to follow.

Sometimes I wonder if those guys just randomly destroy things by accident to screw with the rest of us.

But anyways my point is that not all gate keeper policies are from IT wanting to control things, some times it's just the lesser of two evils. Doing whatever it is for everybody each time it needs to be done is sometimes just faster and cheaper than fixing it when someone messes it up themselves, if it happened frequently enough.
 
2009-09-10 11:59:03 PM  
Juc: Actually some people here don't even know how to use coffee machines, and we make software, really really good software, so you'd think these fellows would be good at picking up anything that has a logical process to follow.


[citation needed]
 
2009-09-11 12:19:14 AM  
thisisarepeat

Would be better if many companies didn't use the two interchangeably for the same department.


//ICT
 
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