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Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt

The Geek and Suit Collaboration – Chapter Three

A colleague of mine sent me the following note this week and I wanted to share it with you, the community:

“I scheduled an interview with Bill Pfleging and Minda Zetlin, authors of the Geek Gap, on the radio program I do for a local college. The interview is Monday night, August 6, from 6 to 7 PM (Pacific) at . The radio station broadcasts to the San Francisco Bay Area at 89.7FM and streams live over the internet. The station does not provide archives of shows, although I will have a recording.

Do you have any questions that you would like asked of the authors? You can email them to me and I will make sure they get included.

If there are any others that you think might be interested in submitting questions, please forward this along to them…..

Yes, more questions are certainly welcome. Being that it is an hour-long program, there is plenty of opportunity to have a wide ranging discussion.

The community can ask questions two ways. Email them so I receive them before 3pm Pacific Time Monday, or if they are brave enough they can phone them in live and on the air, Monday night from about 6:20pm to 7:00pm. 650-941-2500 is the station number.”

I wanted my own colleagues to submit their thoughts before trying my hand at questions and suddenly it dawned on me: let’s get the community to weigh in, question.

Now there is not much time to send your responses for this broadcast, but what will evolve here will be a continuation of our Geek and Suit Collaboration talks so your are all cordially invited to comment on this blog.  The link and comments will be sent to my colleague who will be doing a live interview with Bill and Minda.  There is a good possibility  that some follow-up will also occur live during Community Day at TechEd ’07, either structured or unstructured.

Geeks vs. Suits

In the Geek Gap the authors talk about Geeks and Suits and a “third” role of go-between.

Minda and Bill suggest that there are plenty of people out there who are evolving a “go-between” career and role and don’t quite know what to call themselves: technical liaison, technical analyst.  They quote Mitchell Abramson, a technology architect, as saying that “in a large-scale organization, you almost need some kind of technical liaison to help the business side and the IT world understand each other and yet I’ve never seen a company have that as clearly defined role”.  Well, I think we have that definition here.

If there is such a role as an IT/Business go-between (and we know that the BPX community has evolved a definition of that skillset and even encompasses people who see themselves as playing that role), how likely is it, that our website will attract more of these folks, not only to visit, but also to participate?  It’s a no-brainer to have “geek-fests” and that seems to be a common practice… but what about the behavior of the suits?

Of course in our SCN community, we like to think of our BPX pages as being a place for the go-betweens to convene or a place to broker geek/suit conversations.

Interestingly, the business folks don’t contest the creation of the BPX website, but on the other hand the business guys don’t collaborate as easily as the techies do.

Our SDN community was originally populated primarily by technologists and has just in the last year evolved a “sister” Business Process Expert Community so our newly created business community already has a built in geek population, but my question is:  “How to really bring the geeks into the BPX loop”?.  Some of the SDN community ardently believes there is no need for a go-between, a BPX community and an intermediary role and yet some of our existing community doesn’t really have the patience or language to explain technology concepts to business folks or even technical stuff to newbies.  On the other hand, geek-talk seems to drive off business folks, anesthetizing them by boring them to death, or scares them enough to send them scurrying off.  My question to the authors would be: Any tips on how to mitigate that?  The authors suggest “switching roles”.  How exactly does that work in the real world?

And then the techies, don’t really seem to enjoy the fact that there is any “need” for an additional website, although they still call themselves SDNers and the SAP Developer Network, which kind of excludes non-developers in the title?  And does Business Process Expert create an air of exclusivity as well?

So will suits find the time to collaborate with each other?  Do they know to do this as easily or well as geeks do?

What would help them and their go-betweens interact more effectively online?

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