Quiet… Genius At Work

Approximate time to read: 4 minutes

Now, I don’t normally Blog personal issues. Well, I did, but removed them – first of all because I know prospective employers often look at peoples Blogs (and I’m on the job market) and secondly because I’ve recently had a member of my own family misuse information in such a Blog entry against me. So, all-in-all, it’s bad news.

But today I’m going to talk about work.

I don’t think it’s giving anything away to say I’m unhappy at work right now. The problem, as I see it, is that I’m a support manager in a development team. The company has a separate support division, headed by a Service Director, and a development division, headed by a Delivery Director. Our team report to the latter. This means the emphasis is not on support and work is, well, lacking as most support activities go on within an area that we have no links with. Most of the time I’m doing administrative work – presentations, skill profiles, etc.

My manager is away this week and I have some work I can do (not a great deal, mind) but it’s so mind-numbingly bland that I’m struggling.

Now, other than personal Blogs, the other thing I don’t do is bang my own drum/blow my own trumpet (delete as appropriate). But, damn it, I’m being absolutely wasted. My IT knowledge is superb, as is my ability to learn and adapt. I do web development in my own time as it’s creative and interesting – something my work-day isn’t.

A good few years ago I did a personality test (the Belbin Team Inventory), along with the rest of the team. It neatly divides you into different skills areas. Everyone had multiple skills. Except me. I had all my scores in one area – what was called a “plant”. This means…

Plants are creative, unorthodox and a generator of ideas. If an innovative solution to a problem is needed, a Plant is a good person to ask. A good plant will be bright and free-thinking. The Plant bears a strong resemblance to the popular caricature of the absent-minded professor-inventor, and often has a hard time communicating ideas to others.

Well, spot on, except for the last bit. Which is good, because I’ve cracked the one down-side. My communication, particularly of technical terms, to others is excellent. The idea is that you take a “plant” along to a meeting, whether they know the subject matter or not, and they’ll ask questions, make suggestions and, yes, generate ideas. My manager made advantage of this and took me along to his meetings after that. He’s not my manager now, but of my team-mates from back then, now in a senior position within the company, still “borrows” me every-so-often for just this reason. Unfortunately, it’s not recognised any wider.

Cards on the table… I am imaginative, creative and naturally gifted at IT. I’ve been programming since I was 12 for a start. Unlike many who came to IT because they saw a career in it, and possibly saw good salaries, IT chose me and it was natural for me to do it. It’s rare for someone to find their exact niche in life, but I did. Now it’s being wasted.

Meantime, I can just spend my spare time (including my lunches) indulging a little of my passion. Web development mainly, but I’m also writing an IT article which I hope to get published. I’m also designing an OS (not coding it, but design on paper. I may very well patent many of the ideas). I get to sleep most nights by designing things in my head. Ahhh, yes, the perfect TV, MP3 player, PC, etc. are all in my head! I should patent those actually… a modular PC idea that I had some time ago has recently been announced by an Asian company.

So my work problems aren’t due to not being able to do the job, but a simple lack of inspired and interesting work. I recently went directly to the Service Director and told him of my concerns and a possible solution. Since then I’ve been tasked with putting together details of this idea and turning into a formal presentation for management. It will free up the other support guys in the team to do development (which is what they want to do, and what they business needs) and move me into the support area. Great. Except my manager has ideas of moving someone else (who doesn’t want to go into support), and forcing me back into development. Do you think he doesn’t get it?

Why support and not development? I always loved coding when I was at home and college. And I love doing web development now. But I’ve never liked development commercially because of its constraints. I need to be able to use my imagination and flair but that’s stifled when I have to follow someone else’s designs. Support is great because its so random and you have to use some real imagination to get to the root of a problem quickly.

Oh well. I’m feeling a bit grumpy today because I woke up this morning feeling like I hadn’t got a wink of sleep. Probably spent too much of it subconsciously sorting out the online aspects of my OS….

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