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Mind Your Posture or RTFM? Mon 25 Feb 08

Toy_sampling_megaphone_altemarkMarketing guru, Seth Godin recently had an extremely interesting blog post, "The posture of a communicator".  It's a short post but a powerful one.  I believe it gets to the heart of one of the biggest complaints people have with IT, namely, our poor communications.  IT is well known for its speaking in acronyms, writing cryptic error messages, writing incomprehensible (and not very useful) user guides, and using "code words" rather than plain language.  We often top it off with an arrogant attitude when people tell us they don't understand what we are saying.

Godin's first sentence gets right to the point.

"If you buy my product but don't read the instructions, that's not your fault, it's mine."

I'm sure there are a lot of people in IT that would disagree with that statement.  You know the ones.  They're the ones that complain about users not reading the manual and just wish they would "RTFM" (read the f*&%$#*$ manual). 

Should our users read the manual?  Do I wish the would read the manual?  Absolutely!  But the reality is they don't.  As Godin states:

"It's really easy to insist that people read the friggin manual. It's really easy to blame the user/student/prospect/customer for not trying hard, for being too stupid to get it or for not caring enough to pay attention. Sometimes (often) that might even be a valid complaint. But it's not helpful."

The key phrase there for me is "But it's not helpful."  That's correct, it's not helpful.  As a service provider our job isn't to be "right" but to make sure the customer can use our product.  So it doesn't matter if we are right about thinking they should read the manual since it doesn't help.

Continue reading "Mind Your Posture or RTFM?" »

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The IT Career Builder's Toolkit Mon 18 Feb 08

Matt_moran Matt Moran is one of my favorite bloggers.  I first ran across Matt at the ITToolBox with his Policy Parrot posts.  If you get a chance, read them.  They are classics in the realm of customer service, an area that should be near and dear to anyone in IT.  Matt brings a real-world practical approach to his writings and he's done it again with The IT Career Builder's Toolkit.  It is not only a job search guide but more importantly a career guide.  It is available on Amazon, Cisco Press or InformIT or you can read it for free online.

An example of this practicality is Chapter 3,  "Information Technology: A Great Career" where he addresses the issue of outsourcing and off-shoring head-on.  Complaining about off-shoring in particular is a favorite past time in IT with the refrain of "How can we compete with someone only paid a tenth of what we make?" As Matt points out "Outsourcing Is About Value, Not Costs"  and the key to having a successful IT career is to focus on providing value and not just being the lowest cost provider.

In another example of practicality Matt provides a list of "Actions & Ideas" at the end of each chapter to help you put the ideas of the chapter to use.  As Matt correctly states, "Looking for work, is work".  As such, you should manage your career and a job search in particular as a project.

Matt does provide useful job search tips in a number of chapters but if your focus is solely a job search you may want to supplement it with some other books that go into more detail on those specific areas.  The value of Matt's book is in building your career not just finding the next job. For example some of the chapters include:

  • Chapter 16  On-the-Job Promotion
  • Chapter 17  The Boundaries and Benefits of Working at Home
  • Chapter 18  The Toolkit Approach to Consulting
  • Chapter 19  The Move to Management

These are topics that you won't find a lot about in the other books but are a critical part of your career.

If you are thinking about your career (and you should be) take a look at Matt's book.  As a true technologist he's made it available online for free and if you like it you can purchase later.

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