Monday, July 18, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I just finished reading Guns of the South (tip of the hat to JayBees for the recommendation). The gist of the book is straight forward, yet odd… what if, during the Civil War, the South became equipped with a lot of AK-47s. Long story short, they would have won. Harry Turtledove chose to not focus on time travel or other delectable sci-fi tidbits; he spends the time on “YAY! The South Won! So, uh, what are you going to do about that whole slavery thing?”
While I’m certain Civil War enthusiasts would enjoy this book, it is not geared for someone with my particular disability — Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder… or NADD. This innocuous condition reared it’s head during Guns when it became clear the book was a tome dedicated to the exploration of lifestyles during an alternative post-Civil War period. Zzzzzzzzzzz.
Now, Guns was a fine read, but, more than once, I was flipping through the pages wondering, “Ok, HOW long is this chapter?” When I neared the end of the book and it became clear that some time traveler from the future wasn’t going to appear and, using some whizbang futuristic device, join the North and South together, well, I was disappointed. Sure, I’m happy that President Lee learned his lesson and started to abolish slavery on his own, but, please, no lasers guns? Sheesh.
Folks, I’m a nerd. I need rapid fire content delivery in short, clever, punch phrases. Give me Coupland, give me Calvin’n’Hobbes, give me Asimov, give me The Watchmen. I need this type of content because I’m horribly afflicted with NADD.
A nerd needs a project because a nerd builds stuff. All the time. Those lulls in the conversation over dinner? That’s the nerd working on his project in his head.
It’s unlikely that this project is a nerd’s day job because his opinion regarding his job is, “Been there, done that”. We’ll explore the consequences of this seemingly short attention span in a bit, but for now this project is the other big thing your nerd is building and I’ve no idea what is, but you should.
At some point, you, the nerd’s companion, were the project. You were showered with the fire hose of attention because you were the bright and shiny new development in your nerd’s life. There is also a chance that you’re lucky and you are currently your nerd’s project. Congrats. Don’t get too comfortable because he’ll move on, and, when that happens, you’ll be wondering what happened to all the attention. This handbook might help.
Much has been written about employee motivation and retention. It’s written by folks who actively use words like motivation and retention and generally don’t have a clue about the daily necessity of keeping your team professionally content because they’ve either never done the work or have forgotten how it’s done. These are the people who show up when your single best engineer casually and unexpectedly announces, “I’m quitting. I’m joining my good friend to found a start-up. This is my two weeks’ notice.”
You call on the motivation and retention police because you believe they can perform the legendary “diving save”. Whether it’s HR or a well-intentioned manager with a distinguished title, these people scurry impressively. Meetings that go long into the evening are instantly scheduled with the disenfranchised employee.
It’s an impressive show of force, and it sometimes works, but even if they stay, the damage has been done. They’ve quit, and when someone quits they are effectively saying, “I no longer believe in this company”. What’s worse is that what they were originally thinking was, “I’m bored”.
Boredom is easier to fix than an absence of belief.