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Category: Work

Make Room for the Experts

It’ been nearly 10 years since I stopped writing code and started managing teams. It was a difficult transition for me and I consider myself a high functioning developer. I enjoy talking to less technical people and get satisfaction when I help them understand a complex technical problem. Put me in front of an 8 year old or an 88 year old and I will find a way to help them understand. Not all technology people can do that. It frustrates them when people don’t see the world their way.

This becomes a problem when technologists move into management roles. It works for some, but for the others, it’s just a bad fit. I suspect that most make the move for the same reasons I did — they want to have more influence over the work and they want to make more money.

Unfortunately, within most non-technology companies, the path to have more influence and make more money usually requires moving into management. Traditional corporations have left little room for technology experts to stay experts and contribute at a higher level. HR departments certainly don’t know how to handle it. Google, Facebook and Microsoft clearly understand the value of technical experts. It’s time for non-technology companies to recognize this as well or they will never be able to retain top staff.

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Jet lag

My wife and I just retrurned from a 3 week vacation through Europe. It was probably one of the most renewing trips I’ve ever had. To get away from work for that long is almost next to impossible for most people. We’re both very fortunate to work for companies who were comfortable with us leaving. Getting back is a whole other challenge. 

Removing yourself from regular work and regular life for 3 weeks changes your brain. The time difference is one thing. I woke up at 2am the first night back, the 3am, then 4:30am today – my circadian rhythms are almost back in sync with the Twin Cities. But the other change is around what is important. 

All the usual things happened on this trip – “when I return I’m going to exercise more, stop eating out so much, work a more regular schedule”, etc. All the self improvement things we think about when we have time. The big topic that I always focus on when away is flexibility. Flexibility to me is being able to do what you want from anywhere you want when you want. 20 years ago the only thing that fit this definition was retirement. I’m only 41 years old and I’m not interested in retiring. I hope I’m not interested in retiring when I’m 61 years old. I’m not smashing rocks for a living, my sore joints won’t stop me from being able to work. I use my brain, fingers and mouth to make a living, the rest of my body is used for transport between thinking and talking engagements (meetings). Assuming my brain stays healthy, I should be able to make a living for a longtime. 

So, the question is how does one find or create a job where you can have flexibility to get work done when you want from where you want? 

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On my own

I’ve been thinking about doing this for years and I’ve finally pulled the trigger. I’m going independent. I’ve decided to move on from my current employer [Intertech] and strike out into the world of independent consulting.

A great opportunity came my way to work for an excellent company, so as of February 22nd I will be a senior developer at Ratchet. I leave a company that has one of the more renown C# technical authors (Andrew Troelsen) for a company that has some serious interactive pedigree.  Ever heard of BMW Films web site?

This is an exciting change, which I look forward to.

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