I was recently in a meeting when someone who didn’t know I was in the room made the statement “well it must be a technical discussion you are wanting to have if you’ve invited Graham along”. There was a little bit of embarrassment when it was pointed out who the person sitting opposite them was. This person doesn’t know me so they were making a judgement on the basis of my role, but the role clearly said to them techie and the inference was not business.
There have been other situations myself and others have been in which highlight the same issue. Someone I speak to quite regularly was saying recently that one of the comments made to them in a recent interview was that they were “too techie”. Again the inference was not business.
The job that I do today requires a good deal of technical ability, but its primary purpose isn’t a technology leadership one, it’s a business understanding one. The premise of my role is that the gulf between business people and techie people is so great that they require an interpreter. In other words techies don’t speak the same language as business people.
Because my background is primarily a techie one I tend to be treated with a warm welcome by the technologists, but treated with a certain amount of suspicion by the business people.
It’s almost like some people think there is a one dimensional sliding scale with highly technical on one side and high business on the other. As a techie am I really incapable of thinking as a business person? Perhaps this goes all the way back to school where people were encouraged into the arts bucket or the sciences bucket.
Are these just age old prejudices with a new dimension? Or, do these definitions reveal some real issues? I’m not sure. What I do know, though, is that the need for edge people, or multi-dimensional people is growing all of the time, the innovators, the people who work beyond the process.
One of the reasons I’ve been thinking about the brain so much was the realisation that it will be the people who have a strong right-side of the brain who will be the most valuable ones in the coming economy.
Right-brained people are strongly creative, something that transcends arts, sciences, technical or even business. I think that is will be this characteristic that will become dominant, not the field in which you choose to exercise your creativity; Einstein was creative, Monet was creative, Tim Berners-Lee is creative, Warren Buffett is creative. Or perhaps you don’t like the word creative because that sounds too arty, then how about word innovative; Malcolm Gladwell is innovative, Ted Hoff is innovative, Stephen Hawkins is innovative, Yann Arthus-Bertrand is innovative.
Anyway enough of my musing it’s time for me to go and be innovative in a cross functional, multi dimensional, business focussed, technically challenging, problem solving, situation.