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cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Visits (803)
Technology has changed an awful lot since I first got started. Go ahead and laugh, kids. Some day you will also scratch your head in amazement at how far things have come and how different it all is. You can either get mad or you can get busy is the way I see it. I am thrilled by new technology... even the things that I don't do so well. It always gives me something new and interesting to explore. Increasingly it lets me get into things that I always wanted to do, but did not follow the correct path to have those toys (e.g. animation, filmmaking). As technology moves forward I'm finding that some of my childhood fantasies are in reach enough for me to play without having to make the massive career jump it would have once required. I can make perfectly bad movies with my laptop and commoditiy equipment and don't need to go starve somewhere to make it happen. That's progress!
Of course, there are those who have trouble with these kinds of motions. We all have inconvenience and frustration with moving forward, but some people are really dug in and if they aren't careful the Earth will crumble beneath their feet. I was reading an article called "The 9 most endangered species in the IT workforce". I won't go through all of the categories that Dany Tynan set forth. You can read for yourself. I was intrigued by the general trend of his comments and the impressions they left with me.
Overall the technological landscape is becoming more mobile, more flexible and more chaotic. If you are safely housed in your fortress of policy and certification then you will find yourself becoming less and less significant as people respond to your obstacles to their work by simply going around you. Several of the scenarios that he listed had to do with maintaining a "my way or the highway" attitude and attempting to rule others by simply being smarter than everyone else. The truth is that people have access to all kinds of resources and opinions outside of your domain. They can use their own engenuity to try a number of failed, but progressing approaches using their own devices, open-source software and the Internet in the space of time that it takes to do one round of feasibility study and heirarchical approvals. In other words, the rabble can rise up and get things done, even without the smart guy.
So, rather than being an obstacle, you should be a contributor. Yes, some people will want things that have unintended consequences and you still need to look out for disaster. But if you are working to be an ally rather than a gateway then you can get them to do some of the leg work and bring it up to the point where you can do the final tweaks to work the miracles. That makes you Merlin, not Moriarty.
The other area that was covered was the idea of specialization. Big iron computing will always have a place, but it's no longer the only way to get things done. Likewise, all of your precious certifications and other skill sets may not be relevant to the problem at hand. Are you really leading people into the best solutions, or are you bending the problem into your space? There will always be space for skilled people who can solve problems. Those characteristics are action-oriented, however. I love this quote from the article:
"The days when you could slap some Cisco or Microsoft certifications onto your résumé and write your own ticket are long over, says Lenny Fuchs, owner of My IT Department, which provides contract tech services to small businesses.
"'Without the work experience to back it up, certifications are almost useless,' he says. Fuchs adds he gets a kick out of seeing résumés that read 'John Doe, MCTS, CCA, CTSGIT, MCITP, CCNA, MCP. Last held position: Assistant manager at Starbucks.'"
What have you done for us lately? Certifications are great, but they are no longer the only avenue to getting things done. Many people can now buy a book on Amazon, learn a technology and get to work without ever entering the classroom of secret knowledge. Sometimes you don't even need to do that. Just type your error message into Google and see the troubleshooting discussion in a myriad of support groups.
"That's not fair," I hear you cry! Those people are just fixing a sympton without a full understanding of the system. "They could cause great damage with their dabbling." This is true. But they would rather take that risk than go through the old-school time and expense to have it done "correctly". The message is that a technological survivor is someone who is excited about technology and eager to solve problems, even when they go against conventional wisdom of the past. A survivor is more about finding solutions than blocking ideas and applies their old expertise to the new ideas to save others the pain of learning the "hard way". It's OK if you prefer to step back and watch the mess, waiting for people to come begging back to you. Just be prepared for the day when they evolve and you lose your place in the ecosystem.
Personally, I think there is a lot of excitement in technology. I am mobile and get to apply myself to things that are interesting, helping a lot of people break new ground for themselves. I don't worry that my place will go away, because there is always something waiting for the truly curious. Prehaps that's really the truy quality of keeping yourself relevant as technology marches on. Don't lose your curiosity. Don't let your fear of the unknown trap you in a changing habitat. Explore, share and be part of those who are exploring new ground.