What makes a technologist tick?

TechnologyThis posting is long over due. While it has been percolating in my head for months, I was trying to figure out the time when it would be appropriate for me to write it. That date and time came at precisely 2:30 pm on February 24th, 2014. I’ll explain the significance of that in another posting in a few weeks. But suffice it to say, I think it is time to address something that is near and dear to my heart. There are two things that make a technologist tick; great technology, and being respected for what you do. The question is, how do you leverage it?Recently I had lunch with my good friend who is a CIO with a major staffing firm. He said something I’ll never forget. “Technologists will never be happy if they are not at technology companies. If you have technologists at companies pretending to be technology companies, then you can end up with a real mess.”
TRUE technology companies get things done because they take full advantage of the human capital they have in the organization to get the job done. If you have someone who is in sales, but they can write, and they are passionate about the technology they represent, then leverage them to work with the marketing folks and let them write. Dell did this with me when I was part of the Data Center Solutions team and as a result, I know of at least four deals that closed because of people finding my blog and reading my posts. I credit that not to my writing, but to the foresight of Dell to bless my blogging activities.

Another example would be a case when the company is attempting to create a new technology offering and they have people who know that technology already on staff, but they are in a different role. A true technology companies recognizes that and leverages their expertise. They don’t just let them keep working away while others trying to figure it out. When a company gets too big and inflexible, or when the company allows politics to trump the business and technical goals of the organization, then you quickly end up with wasted opportunities. You end up with people not feeling appreciated what they bring to the mix. You end up with people not passionate about what they do, and you end up with a wasted resource. That is a sad thing.

Let me tell you what makes this technologist (me) tick. Using technology to take data, analyze it, and deliver a richer experience to the customer. Leveraging the Cloud to deliver content, compute power and storage. Seamless integration of dissimilar technologies that bring increased value and efficiency to the enterprise and consumers alike. Being able to passionately share really great technology with people and help them see how to solve real business problems. Wearing multiple hats using all of my skills to benefit my employer and making me feel like I matter to the organization for more reasons that how much revenue I can bring to the table. Being able to leverage technology to work from where ever I happen to be…an airport lounge, a home office, a traditional office, the beach or pool. I happen to have a friend who spends his days writing code from beside the pool…at a local nudist resort close to where he lives in California. He says it helps him be productive. But all of the above demonstrate that work is an experience, not a location. Technology allows us to do our jobs from where ever we are, and as long as we can produce, then does it really matter where that location is?

When a technologist feels appreciated, they feel empowered to creative and mountains for you in ways you could never expect. They will work longer hours. They will want to dig deeper. They will think outside the box in ways that make an even larger impact on the overall effectiveness of the business. They will be your best employees and they will always give their best. The minute they feel like one of those thing is missing they will wonder if they are in the right company. They will still continue to produce, but it will be in the back of their mind. When they begin to see patterns it will confirm for them that it is time to move on.

I have seen some great technologists (developers, architects, sales, marketing, product management, etc) move on from companies for reasons that were completely avoidable. A good friend of mine recently moved on from a great company where he had all of the benefits anyone could dream of, but he was still unhappy.

“I just felt like I didn’t matter any more. I mean, I love the technology and I love creating things, making the product better for our customers. But with new management comes new directives. They wanted to just have me write code but I was not interested in just writing code. I wanted to help with other aspects of the business as well. New management decided to pigeonhole me into the role of a developer, but I can offer more than just Java and Ruby. I actually have a minor in marketing, and I used it before the management change. I felt valued. Now I feel like a commodity.”

Do you run a technology company or do you have technologist that work for you? Ask them what makes them tick, and if you can make it work for them and the company, what is the harm in that? They may be the diamond in the rough that you needed to take your organization to the next level.

 

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