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Trending - technical and non-technical management and leadership in our world

Published: Sunday, March 1, 2020 written by Drew Jackson
View Count: 109
Keywords: programming, system administration, management, staff, technical, non-technical



In the past thirty years and now even more aggressively, I have noticed a rise in non-technical management overseeing technical divisions and there is a good reason for that. Most IT management do not have financial or accounting backgrounds (yet I do with over 25 years worth). That is why most IT type divisions report into the CFO, COO or what have you because of the experience these leaders have with business management, finance, and accounting. Most IT activity is heavy on CAPEX or OPEX and most IT leaders do not understand that way of doing business (yet, I do). Most IT leaders have not had or don't have a variety of reporting structures with a variety of diverse personalities (I have).
 
This is not a trivial post. It has to do with where can we best find and fit those with great width and depth of ability into an organization? Why not have those great minds and types inside a traditional organization? They know what they are in for, boundaries, politics and seniority challenges are abundant, and a slow moving machine is sometimes in need of some higher performace lubrication applied.
 
Now, with the latest in what I see in the market, it has taken nearly 20 years for those with IT and MBA experience and education to make their way into the business world (I was there some 20 years ago and no one really noticed yet I did), and now yet for some reason, cannot get into higher levels of management because their undergrad degree is not finance or accounting. Its just weird, but I get it. The CEO and other CXOs don't trust IT/MBA types unless there is a great need or reason for it; a specific need that cannot be found or filled by the traditional financial analyst who worked their way up the ranks and into some director or vp level of operations and it/finance.
 
Are we getting an older programming generation and systems administration generation that does or does not have higher education in business, finance and accounting? Yes. What about a growing group in leadership as senior managers, directors, and vps? Nope. That is a problem. We have those in non-traditional and traditional organizations at high levels of leadership without IT experience and they rely on their vendors IT leadership for guidance, at great peril. Alas, its their organization and their downfall yet, I get it. Someone gets to come in clean up the mess at some point and the world feels at ease when that happens.
 
Where does that leave the strong minority of IT/MBA types? Not in the cold but definitely not on the game field of play because they are more unique rather than traditional. There has to be a specific problem to bring these types into the game for a traditional organization. Most of the time these unique types are great for startups and those companies that are rich into engineering and dynamic teams, challenging communication and differing high pressure results on short time frames and market windows.
 
Where does that leave the industry moving forward? Like I always said, the 80/20 rule applies and the 95/5 rule applies. In senior management in traditional organizations, its about trust and traditional old fashioned communication. It is not about inventions and innovation creation. However, it is about standardized compliance of innovative solutions that have been rigourously tested and vetted before going live (GOLIVE) in the organizational management I call "the machine".
 
So, we love both technical and non-technical people in management. Diversity 101. Even at Microsoft, in an customer facing team, there is a mixture. Internally, non-customer facing, that is different. Those can all be deep core technical types and various engineers with limited communication and social skills yet with lean teams of analysts, writers, testers and project program managment types.
 
So where am I going with this thread? The cross over between traditional and non-traditional IT/MBA types has been a challenge. Look at all the YouTube leaders with great communication skills and great innovations yet have been reluctant to stay in traditional corporate environments. Is it there fault? No, just the corporate culture will continue to exist for a long time yet the best and brightest often leave and find greener pastures where they can flouish and swim with the current and challenge the industry tides rather than just tread water and wait for the summer soltice for opportunities that come once per bin-annum.
 
So which are you? traditional or non-traditional?
 
I was non-traditional in college and even in high school (taking college courses in my sophomore and junior years - which was unheard of in the late 1970s yet very common today), graduating at 18, yet entering the US Army in delay entry program at age 17, and then going to active US Army first for 4 years of a 12 year commitment, to pay for my college, then starting college at age 22, and finishing by age 25 to go directly to Microsoft (yes a 4 year degree done in 4 years, rarely heard of let alone done in a highly challenging and difficult field of computer systems engineering. there were only 2 of us in a starting program size of 78 to achieve this. very rare).
 
Fast forward 7-10 years after semi-retiring from Microsoft, then using the advice from college advisors some 10 years later, after 10 years of corporate experience, seek an advanced degree, either in engineering or business, or even divity (yes, even this). Its all about a higher purpose and role we play. For me, the MBA/TM (business and international technology) degree 30+15 credits was the way to go. For some others, maybe not. Then, after that a PhD pursuit for a few years which I stopped because of market resistence in my current employment (yes my boss at UNR said, no PhD while working full time. that is impossible, no one can do it, and you should not, yet, I was already 2 years into a 5 year program successfully without anyone even noticing.
 
So, is your story like mine? With a few additions, subtractions, deviations? If you are thankful, humble, direct and passionate, this will come as no suprise that you have read this far and reached this point.
 
I will add more to this... promise... I just want to further explain to those interested that going to and from corporate, traditional to non-traditional opportunities, is more the norm than the exception anymore. It is just hard for HR to trust and wrap their head around the situation.
 
more to come...

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