Saturday, April 2, 2011

Techies Will Be Techies

The old adage "Boys will be boys" should be replaced with "Techies will be techies". Managing a highly skilled technical staff presents interesting challenges. The more brilliant the thinkers, the more difficult they are to manage. Perhaps managing in the traditional sense isn't practical. We don't want to impede their creativity, but we still need to get these people to do what we ask. Perhaps we must compromise. I maintain that a truly brilliant techie can outperform others in their area of expertise overwhelmingly. Letting their minds wander part of the time does not detract from their productivity. It in fact increases it. The harder they work, the harder they need to play.

A techie's idea of having fun is different than what others would consider fun. Oddly, what they do for fun is the same thing they do for work. The big difference is in who they're working for. For work they may write a computer program to solve a business problem. For fun, they might write a computer program just to try a new technology.

So where is there a problem? Techie's love to play pranks!

This can be problematic. I visited a blog recently. The following article contains ideas that are great fun for the techie The 10 Most Ridiculously Awesome Geeky Computer Pranks. As a techie I must admit that it outlines some great pranks. But as a manager I can't afford to let this type of play cause disruption or it could be costly. So I try to stay on top of the latest pranks and techie toys. Then, well prepared I inform my tech staff about these new pranks. Why would a manger do that? Simple, by telling them about the latest pranks I accomplish 4 things. First, the techies now know that I'm aware of the latest pranks. They also know it would be risky for them to use any of them. Second, they can identify and mitigate these new pranks quickly. Third, they think I know as much about this stuff as they do, which means I'm perceived as a sort of kindred techie spirit. This is better than being seen as management (in their eyes). And fourth, they have new pranks they can play on each other.

I suspect that during playtime the techies will be playing some new pranks on each other. If caught, I wouldn't be surprised to hear them explain that they needed to see how each prank works. After all, how could I expect them to fix something they haven't seen before? Well, I certainly wouldn't argue with logic like that.

You may gather from this article that I'm still a techie at heart. True, but more importantly I am a manger. Rather than dealing with grief that could be caused by techies at play, I manipulate their game. With a little bit of luck, their mischief will become harmless playtime directed towards each other. And who is better equipped to handle a techie prank than another techie?

So, be aware - a new version of techie pranks has just been released!

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