Technichian Friction with Design

There is a strong emphasis of technology in almost every business today. If you are not using technology, you are “digital transforming”, essentially you want to be “digital”. This makes the technology manager (and worker) essentially the strong man. Western culture tells us to follow men who present a strong personality. Yet technologists, especially the developers and operation technicians, are not always aware of the broad business needs. I call this the friction between technology and design (business is also there). Design, in this case, is not limited to graphic or even product operation. It could be language style and even the management of companies. It could be the message used in marketing. It could be the content itself (one wants case studies another want business cases).

Friction is a Nice Word for…?

Friction is usually just the beginning of something much bigger. It usually hides (or is synonymous) to a difference in style or in point of view. When a difference between the technical and the business becomes more than a misunderstanding, be careful of escalation. Also, be careful of company politics. Inevitably one side will have more support than the other. Which means she may win out. If you are not willing to stand your ground, you need to let the other win out. If you are absolutely unable to live with decisions which essentially prevent you from working well, that is life. Unfortunately I have seen this many times. When social media first got started I was told that Facebook is not for business. Then came the understanding of using Facebook for “only internal company updates”, essentially company events like recruiting and pick nicks. This is still the thinking about Twitter and Instagram. Which is sometimes true.

Humble Technicians and Techy Artists (Business too)

I recently found two people who are at both sides of this friction. But, there is no friction. The technologists understands the need for business (what I called design) and the businessman understands the need for the technologist’s best work (best practices). They both understand the need to cooperate and give the technical and the brand to the support each other. This seems to be true in many cases. One person takes care of the “product” while another takes care of the “business”. In my introduction the “technical” person usually takes care of the “business” and the “artist” takes care of the “product”. There are many variations, but they are all somewhat equivalent. If one is stronger and pushes the other down, both will suffer in the end. If one is “bossy” and makes the other react in “anger” we get friction. Once in a while one side can be strong enough to create a product that has a strong business (watch “The Social Network” movie about how Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook at Harvard). In the technology world, many of the successful startups, like Google and Microsoft, were founded by two people. They didn’t exactly fit my model, but played a similar role to each other. By the way, read about Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger who are also partners doing about the same thing (see story on CNBC site). These are just examples, my story is about the friction which I saw in real life experiences. It’s also about balancing your work and success of others. Not criticism and being a boss.

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