Recently in Learning Category

Recently, I had two publishers ask me if I would read books for review purposes on my site. I said that I would be glad to. One of the publishers included this little book on communicating between "suits" (businessfolk) and "geeks" (technical folk).

Having a background on both sides of the fence (math, physics, and out of date computer stuff on one side, and accounting, sales and marketing on the other), I have spent a very long time frustrated by how little each of these two groups understands the other. To be frank, it is my belief that the average member of the geek side not only knows that the business side does not care about their issues, but that they do not want to understand the business side. To use the sorts of things I've heard more than once, "I've got a Masters in Computer Science from MIT, and that turkey got a shake and bake degree in marketing from the local trade school. What could he possibly have to teach me? What could he possibly know that I don't, or couldn't learn?" Well the answer is that the mind boggles. On the other side, the business side tends to look at the technical folks as a cross between black box and magic wand, into which flow money and resources, and out of which flows tools for increased productivity and products they can take to market. If they're lucky, the cost of what goes in to the black box will be less than the good stuff that comes out. They often do not realize that making technical choices in ignorance of background information or the consequences of their choices often sabotages the very projects they need to succeed the most.

This book is a good attempt to bridge that gap. Instead of merely describing it, as all too many people have done in the past, it attempts to move past that into the area of solving the communication and attitude problems between two very different sorts of worker with two very different skill sets and experiences, all of which color not only their attitude towards the company they work for and their coworkers, but all sorts of details in the rest of their lives. Just a for instance, a business person knows in their soul that there is always a reason for lower price, and although they are always looking to get what they need for the best possible price, they are open to spending more in order to get more. The typical technical person, when it comes to buying anything other than technology with their own money, is much more difficult to convince that extra money is worthwhile than any business person. It literally does not enter the average tech person's mind that the reason something is cheaper is because you're getting less of something that other people have found valuable. I used to be that way myself before I started working on the business side.

Now this book was written by one author from the technical side and one from the business side. They dodge the easy trap of laying all of the blame on this or that, and they give some very commonsense methods of bridging the gap from both sides - not laying the burden on either side exclusively. They do a pretty good job, far more effective than anyone else I have seen make the same attempt.

I would recommend this to either geeks or suits who have any need to understand where the other is coming from. In other works, basically everyone with a job.

The Geek Gap at Amazon

The Geek Gap at Barnes and Noble

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