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The dis/empowering Power of Quiet

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Here is a video that caught my eye – The power of Quiet

Here’s the challenge…

One might use another expression to describe “Introverts” and that is, “People who live in their heads”.  I have been at a number of companies where they have some sort of title, designation, or group such as “Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff”, “(Technical) Fellow”, “Distinguished Engineer”, or some such title.  The truth of these titles is that they are a parallel path for folks that, for whatever reason, are not on the corporate management or corporate leadership track.

My experience with these folks is that, given that they are “living in their head”, their communication skills are unpracticed and generally abysmal.  So when the company sets up programs that engage these folks as high value technical resources the company is sorely disappointed.  They have a difficult time writing, speaking, or engaging (in a social context) other people.

So, the clip below talks about Introverts and how valuable they are.  If they can’t communicate then how does one extract the value?  What is missing from this clip is the suggestion that introverts with great ideas can (and should) develop communication and social skills.  Is that so impossible?

If you have poor communication skills and can’t articulate a (great) idea to a general audience (investors, corporate executives) in the way they want to hear them then you will not have influence.  If you don’t have influence and you don’t understand social protocols then you will never sell your vision.  And if you can’t sell your vision to an audience then you are going to be stuck – no matter how great an idea – as some heads down engineer or technician in the lower floors of a giant corporation.  (Or out of work.)

Seems to me, if you have a great idea and passion, then you’ll work on social and communication skills (extrovert) to transform your ideas into reality.  Then you might be able to trade “Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff” living in a fabric cubicle for Vice President of Engineering with a corner office.  The delta is communication, social skills & protocols, and a bit of business sense.  Social intelligence goes a long way to carry technical and intellectual intelligence into realization through investors and corporate sponsors.

The clip seems to suggest that introverts can’t change and the only way they can be successful or have their ideas acted upon is to find someone else (an extrovert) to carry the water for them.  Sounds like dis/empowering advice for all those heads down technicians who live only in their head and who may never be recognized for their great ideas.

Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me – they’re shy and they live in their heads.  They’re almost like artists.  In fact, the very best of them are artists.  And artists work best alone – best outside of corporate environments, best when they can control an invention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee.  I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been designed by committee.  Because the committee would never agree!

Steve Wozniak

That, I believe, is some bad advice to engineers (read more from Woz)

Written by frrl

October 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Career choices for the “less-than-social”

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So you can’t be social?  What careers are best for you?

Caught this one on yahoo (read it).  What are the top careers for people who are not good at being social?

Interesting that the top careers for people who are introverts and have a need for a “less-than-social” job are in Information Technology .  Anyone who has tried to manage techie teams already knows this.  Managing these folks is like herding cats.  Making matters worse for any organization, is that these folks generally have communication challenges.

In one workplace I observed a couple of techie folks who sat across from each other communicating with each other with terse e-mail messages.  Couldn’t they just talk to each other?  When one company tried to introduce a program that would assemble the collective wisdom of those who were designated as “Distinguished Members of the Technical Staff” and “Technical Fellows” we found that the internal corporate portal discussion groups set up so these folks could collaborate fell mostly empty.  I once asked a woman about the person who sat in the cubicle in front of her.  She did not know who he was or what he did.  Both of these people were part of the IT department at this company. An executive once asked a UNIX admin a question about security.  The UNIX admin responded by e-mailing him a UNIX syslog of thousands of lines of messages with little other explanation.

At another company I asked where the IT folks were.  They pointed me to a locked door near the freight elevator.  Behind the key-pad entry door was the IT staff with desks on raised floor and no windows.  This was office space reclaimed from the days of the mainframe.  For whatever the reason, the business decided to separate these folks from the rest of the employees.  I’m sure this just exacerbated any communication problem that already existed.  Most businesses struggle with alignment of business and IT.  Is it any wonder that business and IT are misaligned and don’t easily communicate when you choose to physically separate groups in such an extreme manner?

In any case, check out the full story on Yahoo here

By Amy Winter

Are you an introvert looking to find your place in the working world? You’re in luck. There are actually a variety of jobs out there that are geared toward the less-than-social.

Career coach Curt Rosengren recommends that introverts look for careers more focused on the internal process.

“Envision doing something where a majority of the time is spent doing things in your head,” says Rosengren. “An introvert would feel more comfortable and enjoy the solo time.”

Career #1 – Computer Programmer

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, computer programmers might spend time alone writing in computer languages like C++ and Java in order to create software programs. They’re also the ones who test code and fix mistakes in the event of an error.

Career #2 – Medical Records and Health Information Technician

Instead of being hands-on with patients, these technicians are generally more hands-on with patients’ health information, making sure it’s accurate, up-to-date, and accessible in paper and electronic systems, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Career #4 – Network Administrator

If you consider yourself a techie and think you’d prefer spending time alone with computer networks versus people, a career as a network administrator could be right up your alley.

As a network administrator, you might be responsible for organizing, installing, and supporting a company’s computer systems, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In order to keep the systems up-to-date, you could set up network hardware and software, gather information to measure the network’s performance, and make the necessary upgrades and repairs, adds the Department of Labor.

Read some related articles

Four Challenges of Techie Teams

Leading Techie Teams

Advice to Engineers from Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple

Top 5 Career Tips for Graduate Engineers… and a few observations

The rise of the new groupthink…  in the NY Times

Written by frrl

June 3, 2012 at 5:28 am

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