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Geeks Versus Jocks: CIOs, Beware Your Culture
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Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
6/5/2014 | 9:55:40 AM
Monoculture
This article didn't go where I expected it to--and that was a good thing. It's too easy for people aligned with the IT industry to get binary about geek culture (geek culture good, non-geek culture bad). But as you point out, a monoculture--whether geek, jock or something else--can surpress other voices, alienate those who aren't aligned with the dominant model, and surpress productivity.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
6/5/2014 | 10:06:55 AM
Re: Monoculture
I concur, Drew. I appreciate the focus on reducing monoculture. Diversity in background, skillset and opinion will only benefit any IT shop (any department in any industry, really). When we all think and act the same, we miss out on valuable opportunities and insights that are only visible when someone says or does something completely unexpected.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
6/5/2014 | 11:22:02 AM
Outside the Box Teams
To the IT mix of staffers, let's add artists, designers and philosophers, cartoonists and MBAs. And not only those trained in graduate programs designed to turn them into systemized technology robots (I'm thinking of all those UX people, sorry).  All would make good additions to IT staffs when it comes to product development, conceptualizing how people will use it, seeing the business and financial benefits, and know how to make it appealing. Such a group did exist in product development for a large bank a long time ago – we did wonderful things. Let's not stop at the threshold, let's pull from all the disciplines and channel their contributions into the effort. The products and services will be great.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/5/2014 | 11:30:06 AM
Re: Monoculture
What's your take on culture for companies that have most employees working onsite in an HQ versus more distributed orgs, with many peope working from home offices or small branch sites? I have worked at both, and while it seems nonintuitive, I think that a virtual workforce can have an equalizing effect. 
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
6/5/2014 | 11:41:54 AM
Re: Monoculture
There are benefits to a distributed workforce, but I don't believe they necessarily outweigh the productivity and organic communications that happen when a team is colocated. If you have diversity in your team and they are able to communicate efficiently and openly, then you have the best possible combination. Nothing against telecommuters, but there are concrete reasons why most agile frameworks strongly encourage a team to be located together. That is where the best communication (verbal and non-verbal) happens.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
6/5/2014 | 11:47:52 AM
Re: Monoculture
>> I think that a virtual workforce can have an equalizing effect.

Good point. Outsourcing in general probably has a equalizing effect.

Virtual teams can be more diverse. People tend to assemble virtual teams based on skills and need within the budget, rather than "like hires like" for on-site teams.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/5/2014 | 11:48:08 AM
Re: Monoculture
It's interesting you say that. I have heard lately of instances where companies are insisting on employees being onsite, even if it means passing up a qualified applicant. Do you see a growing backlash against remote work (or, in a better light, pull to have teams physically colocated)?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/5/2014 | 11:58:44 AM
Re: Monoculture
@Drew- Thanks. I try to find a new angle with everything. The interestingly thing about the monoculture is that I think a lot of managers strive for it because they mistake it for harmony. But harmony actually requires multiple voices hitting notes that sounds good together. Too zen?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/5/2014 | 12:01:08 PM
Re: Outside the Box Teams
@jastro- I like it. But how do you find that mix of people as a manager? the typical job asks for "qualifications" that won't necessarily resonate with that diverse group. Are we writing poor job descriptions? Are we interviewing wrong? How do you build the mix while still getting folks that can do the job?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/5/2014 | 12:02:44 PM
Re: Monoculture
@lorna- I think the same thing applies to coolaboration. People will tend to reach out virtually to people like them. But where i do think equalization happens is in surfacing ideas to management. 

Of course, the problem is that the manager is often complicit in the monoculture. 
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