Communication with non technical teams

One big problem that I had to learn and I’m still learning is how to communicate with upper management and other non-technical peers about the technical issues we confront, the limitations of new technologies we want to implement, restrictions or disadvantages of methodologies they propose to make certain things more user friendly.
Explaining is a big no no, one thing I realized is that an executive will never expose himself to not understand what you are explaining so getting into details is not welcome, their attention span is short or their willingness to pay attention is short or very limited, it is really a defense mechanism.
To me I always had the feeling that there is a big spectrum in the communication, on one end the super detailed explanation and on the other 100% Bull crap.
But now I think it doesn’t need to be like that.
The same way I learned no one reads long emails, no one wants long detailed explanations, we are all used to consume a bulleted pros and cons type of communication, including savings and risks.
When we started considering moving our infrastructure to the cloud, instead of explaining the technical terms I just mentioned that we will be able to become 100% mobile, and the security of the infrastructure will be Microsoft’s and not ours.
Never mentioned Azure, or single sign on, E3 or E5 licensing, tenants, etc. Simply because none of those terms mean anything to them and they don’t want to know.
The only caveat is maybe during a happy hour over beer, when they are already experiencing the new technology and they wonder how it works, that is a good moment to talk “science fiction”, which is just sharing the new technology, how advance it is and how much we are now using cutting edge technology that works how it supposed to work, like video on demand as opposed to DVD or VHS crap.
Using examples like when Mr. Westinghouse in the early 1900s proposed factory owners to forget about their teams of engineers running big electric generators to run the machines and connect to the grid, the same exact thing is happening now.
I remember when we upgraded our physical infrastructure to embrace virtualization, I just used the example of the calculator we use in Windows, is not a real one is just a virtual calculator, with servers the same logic applies. Yes the temptation is always there to explain the details the benefits, but if it is more efficient and cost effective that is good enough.

To manage or not to manage

There is a point in your career when you need to decide if you will continue being the tech guy or if you are going to make the jump and become a manager.

Not as easy as it looks, not as hard as it might seem. But with definite consequences.

As one of the guys working with me said, programmers and tech guys don’t age well, I think his comment is spot on. Unless you are a super genius, technology moves so damn fast that most likely you are not going to age well.

But if you chose the management path, you might find out that it was your calling or you will be unhappy navigating politically heavy waters, management decisions that you will not always like,  budget constrictions, lack of resources, power battles or any combinations.

To me the worst part was realizing that the team I belonged to was not as good or efficient as I previously thought.

Money through my new responsibility of having to come up with budgets becomes a very powerful way of understanding the real value of my decisions, including having to chose the right people and letting go the ones that are not up to the task or they got stuck in the past.

In this new reality is not anymore about making things work at the technical level, is making things work at every possible level, which has way more variables and as a defense mechanism you become less sensitive and compassionate, thicker skin.

So choosing the path determine your future, well nothing new there, but at the end of the day, understanding that your decision will determine your day to day for years to come is crucial. In my case I loved being involved in all the technical aspects of the operation, positioning the company to be more efficient and competitive, spend hours and hours figuring out how to integrate, simplify and operationalize the new technologies was something I loved.

Now I know that I was able to do that because there was another person doing what I do now, which is getting the approvals, selling the upper management the ideas and getting the money.

So do I love what I do now?

Yes and no, it is harder less stressful in a way, or different stress. The stress of dealing with an Exchange server not delivering messages is gone but in the new job the stress comes form having so many balls in the air, understanding new needs that requires substantial implementations with complex changes and complex implementations, exciting  but complex.

Bottom line my tech days are gone and belong to the past I can’t conceive going back but I still long having the illusion that I had things under control my reality was more binary and now I deal with Qbits