The Bi-Lingual Advantage in IT

by marilyn on June 4, 2009

Imagine a typical software solutions problem. The company needs to improve its bottom line revenue, the customers are complaining and want their problem solved yesterday. At best, the engineer sees a technical challenge involving algorithms and code. At worst, he sees an annoying interruption to solving interesting technical challenges. The engineer’s goal is to build a robust, elegant solution to a problem. The manager, on the other hand, sees something very different. His focus is not on the technology but the process of assembling and coordinating a team. Who has the right skills? What skills are needed? What will this cost? How quickly can it be done? The manager’s goal is to give the customer what they really want, even if that is not the most elegant solution.

Dilbert highlights, to great effect, the gap between management and engineering. Frequently, the two groups seem to live in different worlds. More significantly, they often appear to work for completely separate companies with totally contradictory agendas. Sadly, there is some truth to this. Ed Schein, professor emeritus of business psychology at MIT Sloan, points out, managers and engineers form two distinct, separate organizational subcultures. Each group has very specific goals, which may not always be in alignment. Unfortunately, since both groups are working for the same company, and apparently speaking the same language, they tend to assume that they have the same image in mind. As many managers and engineers have discovered, this can lead to more than a little friction.

Read the rest at Enterprise Management Quarterly

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