Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Geek Is Good For Life

There is a great post in Rands In Repose talking about the importance of staying flexible and not stopping to develop.

With much talent, this post echoes with my two years old ramble about dumb standard IT career paths, which start rooted in technicality but then strongly orient people away from it. How stupid is it to pull software developers out of the heart of the battle as soon as they have reach a great level of performance and expertise in order to turn them into frustrated managers?

The system is actually much subtler than that: software developers are teased into pulling themselves out through HR designed career paths that incarnate in artificial titles and levels and progress steps leading nowhere close to professional satisfaction.

Will technicality be assumed one day as a subject of pride? Should I keep wearing ThinkGeek t-shirts as a protest until this day happens?


jf said...


During my MBA I wanted to become a manager, but today I realise that what makes me happy is to design and run software prototypes...

So maybe I should use my MBA when I have stopped being productive ;-)

David Dossot said...

Or use your MBA to build better business oriented software?

Or to meet other MBAs and play golf?


alex said...


Our civilization is arrogant beyond belief because it fails to learn about the interesting ways of past worlds for "applying talent". Take the example of "Les Compagnons du Tour de France": was there any bull about stopping to be a craftsman and start being a bureaucrat? how were these guys performing "knowledge management"? Not with databases and expensive software, but by steering people through a process of learning experience. How were they developing talent? Not by creating idiotic and artificial "career paths" based on surrealistic "job families" invented by some expensive HR consultant. Rather by participating to "projects" with passion and commitment and by earning the respect of their peers. So yes you are right and it's good that you keep doing things with so much common sense. Aside from your tremendous commitment to your craft, common sense is something I deeply respect and admire in your way of doing things.

About MBAs: they're neither good, nor bad like everything else. It depends how one goes about getting one:
- what objectives on has in pursuing the MBA, i.e. acquisition of skills, enjoyment of the process itself, NOT subsequent salary increase (non-autotelic activity = lack of balance and harmony)
- what specific changes / incremental capabilities the EDUCATIONAL PROCESS, the EXPERIENCE, NOT the diploma, brings to the student
- how the MBA is used, i.e. if used to be a better manager for a business it's OK, but if used to be a highly paid asshole at work then NOT OK (by the way, here's a link to the ARSE=Asshole Rating Self-Exam: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/02/arse_the_asshho.html)

Disclosure: I personally do not have an MBA because I never saw the value of it for me or for my customers.

Message to jf: Thanks for sharing your experience. If I may, here are my two dimes: BE YOU, live YOUR life and do what you LOVE. I bet your MBA experience was profitable even if it only helped you identify what makes you happy. Happiness is priceless and essential (if you get a chance to read a book called Flow I strongly recommend it - here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Flow-Psychology-Experience-Mihaly-Csikszentmihalyi/dp/0060920432/sr=8-2/qid=1171110430/ref=pd_bbs_2/102-6976044-3111309?ie=UTF8&s=books). The minute you accept the idea of being non-productive, non-creative, not in flow at work, you become irrelevant and MBA or no MBA, irrelevance will make you unhappy, bitter and frustrated. Keep going. Enjoy. Love. Be Passionate. Contribute. Share. Be Part of the World. Create. Destroy. Invent. Innovate. Preserve. Enjoy!

Great post David.



David Dossot said...


Joel Spolsky made a book by collecting great posts on software.

I think I should do the same with your comments on my blog, Alex! That would make a great book ;-)

I did not know about the "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" book. Once I will have settled, I think I will add it to my library. Flow is a state that is so crucial and vital but so fragile and elusive at the same time.

You get addicted to it because it is a state that when you are into, you feel truly connected to your life, your time, your place. And then you are a better software developer, business advisor, believer, friend, lover...