Saturday, March 17, 2007

Geeks need apply...

I thought this article got most of it right...

But, I also thought they missed the most important item.

  • Give them useful, meaningful, important things to do

I hated writing shelf-ware in a former life.  Nothing was worse then working on a project you knew no one would probably use.  I would rather work on a small, no fame/no glory project - that would get used; way before I worked on something big, huge, but useless.

Give me something meaningful - that is perhaps the most important thing.

More than their 8, but their 8 are important too mostly.....



Blogger Rachel said....

#1 -- I had a boss who insisted that I be on site during business hours. Nevermind the fact that I was the production DBA and did most of my work off-hours so as not to disturb production. They needed "face time". As if actually seeing me meant the work was getting done.

#2 -- And then there was the boss who insisted I couldn't telecommute when things had to be done in the middle of the night..... okay, that production problem will just take at least 90 minutes longer to solve as I have to get up, get dressed and get into the office.


But I like your addition. That was always the most important thing to me, in any job. I want to feel USEFUL

Sat Mar 17, 09:04:00 PM EDT  

Blogger jcharpak said....

Yes! I want to feel useful! There's nothing worse than spending months working on a project, talking with users, spec'ing, developing, testing, and deploying something...only to find no-one's using it.

Sun Mar 18, 12:51:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Laurent Schneider said....

#8 Do not make them do anything other than work

so true. My most frustrating experience was being black-listed by a customer for not having put the screwdriver at the right place when my job should have been to create the database.

Sun Mar 18, 02:58:00 AM EDT  

Blogger William Robertson said....

#5. Do not expect them to wear a suit

I agree, but I'm not sure they have the reason right ("Geeks find arbitrary activities that lack real and meaningful purpose a waste of time and energy.") I quite like wearing a suit for short periods, but after a while it starts to make me feel like a corporate drone, and programming is a creative activity. Graphic designers, illustrators, musicians, writers don't tend to wear suits.

Sun Mar 18, 05:26:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

I'm not sure they have the reason right

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes the graphic designers et al are the worst of the fashionista nazis.

I worked for one startup where all the geeks wore shorts and t-shirts. The owner literally was the janitor. They laughed at the people with masters degrees that would come through and try to sell them something wearing suits. They laughed at the competition that would have "no-tie Fridays" (and have wear-a-tie-with-Bloom-County-t-shirt Fridays). They'd kick us out at 7PM so we wouldn't burn ourselves out. Best dang job I ever had. Too bad they changed direction away from what I do when better business opportunities arose. I guess it's good they don't have to look at my knees 20 years on... :-)

But still, there is opportunity where places don't realize the truth of the Nomadishere post. Between rationalization and the modifications you can make to your local environment, there doesn't have to be a need to reject crappy environs. They can't read your mind yet. More scarcity and less competition means more dollars. And if it becomes intolerable, you can find something better.

Sun Mar 18, 02:57:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Paul said....

My boss calls me a geek - I think what he means is I get things done. I've been teaching him keyboard shortcuts for years, but does he listen?

Sun Mar 18, 04:31:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Tim said....

I would add to your #9: "...and include them in determining what's useful, meaningful, and important."

I have always found that the smart person who can do the work has the best input into what the work should be. It also prevents miscommunication over what's meaningful.

Mon Mar 19, 09:58:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Michael A. Rife said....

Add "include the geek in the technical decisions" to the list!!

Mon Mar 19, 12:02:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous RobH said....

I would rather work on a small, no fame/no glory project - that would get used; way before I worked on something big, huge, but useless.

No kidding, except, as I've found most times those "simple" often used pieces of software become integral to how a business works or operates.

Also, once you do something simple, people often come back with "can yo u add this, what about that?" and before you know it, its much bigger thing than you started (but has the benefit of going through scope for each small piece and growing more logically).

Mon Mar 19, 01:40:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Jim said....

Tracy Kidder's "The Soul of a New Machine" follows the development of Data General's Eagle machine. Great writing and insight into how Engineers are motivated. (eg see their hard work in action)

Mon Mar 19, 03:18:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Unappreciated DBA said....

michael a. rife is onto something. I'm 100% tired of my (DBA) opinion being asked, only to have said opinion thrown into the dustbin. I'm the only "database guy" in an organization of 40+ people working on three different product lines. For a performance-critical demo with a HUGE potential customer, involving a copy of 600+ MB of data within the database (plus redo/undo and index modifications, since nothing could be offlined), I told the boss that the 3- and 4-CPU machines with a single disk each being offered was insufficient.

Boss didn't talk to me for 10 weeks. (No email, no returned phone calls, nothing. I marked it on my calendar.) I don't even know how the demo went, after some of the other guys installed Oracle on one of the aforementioned servers in prepration.

Yeah, morale ain't so hot around here.

Mon Mar 19, 04:45:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anthony Wilson said....

The article, of course, is absolutely 100% correct. I would love to work in a workplace which satisfied all of these requirements.

Unfortunately, the article is also absolute, 100% wishful thinking. The dot-com days are long gone, management is no longer bowing to their geek overlords' every wish.

And why would they? We are after all just another cog in the corporate machine. Is it MORE important to keep us happy than any other employee? That seems a bit arrogant to me. There's probably plenty of staff around who would like things to be different.

Keeping the tech staff "working happily" has not been a priority anywhere I have worked, most managers have their own gripes and concerns, the last thing they are worried about is whether or not the hairy guys down the hall with the odd sense of humour have enough lava lamps and caffeinated drinks around to keep them happy.

Of course, we can always dream...

Tue Mar 20, 01:55:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Sidhu said....

Well first of all meaning of all three words from "define: * in Google"

Intelligent: having the capacity for thought and reason especially to a high degree
Geek: In computers and the Internet, a geekis a person who is inordinately dedicated to and involved with the technologyto the point of sometimes not appearing to be like the rest of us (non-geeks).Being a geek also implies a capability with the technology.
Nerd: A computer expert by aptitude and not mere training. Usually male, under the age of 35 and socially inept; a person whose tremendous skill with operating or designing computer hardware or software is exceeded only by his, rarely her, passionate love of the technology.
So all the three words refer to some exceptional class of people, not everybody ;) Here are my views about all the points:

1 Yes flexible timings are a big thing. Different classes of people are there. One that can work in morning, another late night so and so and one that can't anytime (but this article is not for those ;)
2 Yes everybody likes different kind of environment around. I like greenry and natural things, if possible :) & the nap thing I strongly agree to ;)
3 Except while sleeping and listening to some classical genre of music, I need light :)
4 Nice idea. & I ALMOST HATE those people talking on the phone everytime, specially sales people & managers.
5 Yes. No suits and formals. It is upto you whatever you like. Reid & Taylor Suits are ok for James Bond in 007 series but are not going to help in bringing up a server from crash or catching an exception that has propagated to 5th-6th calling program because somebody didn't handle it at proper place earlier :)
6 Not a big issue. Just need the company of like minded people and it is fine :)
7 Yes. No meetings just for the sake of meetings. We need work not meetings.
8 It hurts the soul.

Cheers !

Tue Mar 20, 02:29:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Khushbu said....

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wed Mar 28, 03:30:00 AM EDT  


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