We should always have in mind this question: “Are we working on the best solution to meet our needs or goals?” Many times that is not the case. Most people are blissfully unaware of this as they imagine that their colleagues wouldn’t suggest anything but the most adequate solution. That assumption, however, is incorrect more often than not.
Over the past couple of decades, we have seen a curious phenomenon arise: extreme specialization.
Today, tech professionals are dividing themselves up into classes such as .Net developers, Java developers, front-end developers, etc. People working with IT infrastructure are also split into the categories of Microsoft or Linux professionals.
This behavior is incentivized by tech companies which employ every means available to convince professionals that their great products should always be used in conjunction with some of their other products. These companies create what are called Stacks, sets of applications that combine their various products with one another and/or with open source components.
But what’s the matter with that?
If you are starting a company, or simply running one that is already established, you need people who believe in what the company does. Offering good financial compensation and quirky perks might attract good people, but they will only be able to do their best work if they believe in what the company is doing.
Too frequently, in too many companies, I’ve seen people whose only objective at work was to get to the end of the month and receive their next paycheck or to get to the end of the year and receive some sort of bonus. When the financial compensation (such as bonuses) is big enough, you might attract and retain a certain type of person whose main goal in life is to obtain as much money as possible. Those people are not necessarily bad, and at least they will be trying to get as much business as possible, but they might not really care whether your company’s customers are totally satisfied or not as long as their goals have been met and their bonuses secured.
Not too long ago I met a young lady who is very committed to her work, whatever that work might be. She was just starting at a new position and a new company when we had a chance to talk.
She made a very positive impression on me, but there was one thing she told me that was quite disappointing. You see, she told me that she almost never read any fiction because even though she liked it, she thought it was a waste of time.
That’s something that has been on my mind a lot, since I figured that there probably are many out there who think the same way. If you happen to be one of those people, I’ll tell you the same thing I told her: a little fiction might just open your mind to new ideas.
Recent history is full of cases of people who went out and actually created the things they read about in fiction novels. This is especially true of science fiction novels since they seem to inspire the more technically creative people. However, I don’t wish to just point at the mobile phone, which was inspired by the original Star Trek series’ handheld communicators, and other such developments. That is just one example of how fiction can offer a contribution to people’s lives.
Recently I’ve had a good friend ask me if I was going to start writing self-help books as some of my more recent writings were about bettering one’s self or work. This got me to thinking about what I write, but from a different perspective.
I’ve written over fifteen technical books over the years. Thirteen were for commercial publication, while the rest was for free distribution. All of these books focused on teaching people how to use something and all of them were created with the base assumption that a person would pick them up in order to teach themselves how to accomplish something. I guess that in a way I’ve always written self-help books.
This odd realisation again got me into thinking about what I do and how I do it. It’s interesting how a simple question, asked in jest in this case, can lead you to profound reflection, if you truly listen to what people say.
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
– Bryant H. McGill
You don’t exist in a vacuum. You are surrounded by people all the time. When you are at work, when you are on the streets and for most even when at home, there are always people around.
Some of these people may know you well, others have no clue of just who you are. That is okay, sometimes you probably don’t really know who you are either.