Anyone working in the IT industry knows that there are a few issues regarding women in tech. There's a shortage of qualified women. The IT culture tends to be male dominated, and in some cases there's implicit, or even explicit, sexism and sexual harassment.
In the past few days, sexual harassment in Silicon Valley came to light in with a blog post by Susan Fowler about her experience working at Uber. It went viral and USA Today has a story about sexism in Silicon valley.
Here's what we think about the situation:
1) Sexism in tech exists because some people don't respect all other humans and the male culture makes them think that it's macho and acceptable to treat women as objects.
2) The culture must change and it can only change from the top. The CEO of the company has the responsibility to create the culture and set the morals for the company. For better or for worse, his or her attitude regarding sexism, minorities, respect, and morals will be reflected in the hiring and running of the company.
In the Uber incident, the board and CEO claim that they are shocked and can't understand how this could have happened. I don't believe it. It happened on their watch, and they are responsible for the culture and tone in their company.
Without wavering, at Tejon Tech, there's zero tolerance for behaving like a pig. I hope that it's that way where you work too.
Value is making making hard things easy. If you can find the hard thing that someone wants to solve and make that easy, then you have created value for that person.
Think about it - what's the hard thing that your clients want you to solve? It is hard for technical reasons? or because it's risky to their career? What do they gain by solving the problem?
If, as a consultant, you're solving problems that anyone can solve, then what value are you bringing to the client? Are you more than just a commodity - more than just additional manpower and hours for the project?
As a consultant, I encourage you to evaluate the value you bring to the project, study to learn new valuable skills, and think about your value from the client's point of view.
As a data architect, very few things bug me more than isolated islands of data.
In technical terms these disconnected data stores are called information silos or data silos (wikipedia), after the grain silos you see driving across Illinois. While they look peaceful and picturesque in heartland, and it's dirt simple to start entering data in a spreadsheet, in the long-term it's far more difficult to harvest data from a data silo than to grow corn in the back fourty.
Data Silos cause multiple problems for an organization:
If the data silo isn't easily available to the staff person needing the data, then it's only human nature to improvise. They guess at the data, spend time searching, find an incorrect copy of the data, or just give up and skip the data to meet the deadline. Or, without a clear central data source, when new data is created within an organization, the culture may be to create another spreadsheet.
The end result can be:
And that's the reason behind this statement in the Tejon Tech's Culture Statements:
Kill the Silos!
As a consultant always keep your eye out for unnecessary data silos, because there's value in killing silos.
Recently I blogged about how I oppose the traditional idea that "knowledge is power". But I do believe that abstraction = intelligence = power. I believe that abstraction is one of the most effective ways to make hard things easy. And I don't mean abstract art.
If you lookup the term "abstraction" you'll see many definitions. Here, I'm using the the word "abstraction" to mean building on one layer of capability to create a new, more powerful layer of capability.
Each layer of abstraction builds on the capabilities of the previous layer to create new capabilities.
Building software systems also leverages the concept of abstraction. A microprocessor executes microcode inside the CPU to execute the assembler commands and move data between the registers and adders. The OS and drivers use low level assembler code to build functionality. Compilers turn C# code into executable code.
Inside Tejon Tech, we write SQL Server T-SQL code to create an object-oriented database. The result is an abstraction layer consisting of SQL Server stored procedure calls. While they are simple to call, no user would ever want to use the database by writing proc calls, so the user interface is essentially an abstraction of those proc calls turning the code into a graphical user experience that's much easier to use and can visualize that data.
Abstraction is all around us and you'll see it everywhere once you're aware of it. And, if you can use abstraction to turn multiple complex steps into a single new step, then you've created new capabilities.
A local talk radio station, that annoys me no end, has a commercial with a creepy voice that says, "Saying, I don't know, is no longer acceptable".
In contrast, within Tejon Tech, we have a cultural statement (yes, we actually write them down, in Trello) that says,
It's OK to say "I don't know."
But it's more than just ok, I actually respect people more who say those three magic words - especially consultants who are under so much pressure to always have the golden answer.
Besides the obvious fact that claiming to know a subject when you don’t is a lie, here are a few other reasons by I respect someone who speaks up and says, “I don’t know”...
We live in a complex world, and, if you're tech consultant, we work in a complex industry, anyone who claims to know something when they don’t doesn’t respect how complex this world is.
You never know who really does know the answer, so making up an answer or claiming to know something when you don’t is not only lying, it’s stupid lying.
Saying, “I don’t know”, is an invitation to learn something new.
Saying, “I don’t know”, shows respect for those who do know.
Staying silent when you should speak up and admit that you don’t know something as well as the team thinks you do is a silent lie and puts the team and the project at risk.
Saying, “I don’t know”, builds a person’s credibility for those topics that the person does know.
so, now you know.
For a way cool, interactive, 38K word essay on code, that even Bill Gates likes, check out...
Apparently, an editor of Bloomberg Businessweek realized that although he had been working in digital journalism for a couple decades, there was a lot he didn't know. So he asked Paul Ford - a programmer and author, to explain it to him.
The result is "What is Code?", one of Bloomberg's most popular stories ever, that non-programmers might even understand. maybe.
I have come to love the words, "Sir, I have a doubt"
As software developers we live in a world of iterations and continuous improvement, which means that you have to be honest about what can be improved - without ego or hard feelings. The trick is to keep your eye on the code, and see the criticism as criticism of the code, not of you personally. Because when someone says, "Sir, I have a doubt", then collaboration is about to spark some good ideas.
For generations, the Francis Bacon quote, “knowledge is power” has meant that the one who controls the knowledge and keeps it to oneself is the one with the power. It was a selfish philosophy of knowing more than others and lording it over them.
The information explosion of the Internet has turned the “knowledge is power” philosophy upside down and inside out. In the information age, the concept is “sharing information is power”. The websites and bloggers who position themselves as the go-to source are the ones with the most eyeballs.
So, here’s the concept on which you can base your digital strategy and brand:
Determine whom you have a passion and ability to serve and then freely share what knowledge you have that could improve their lives or help them chase their dreams.