Monday, September 14, 2009

Rise up and take control

I overheard someone on the radio this morning (I think he was Chief Economist @ Google) talking about the skills required for success in the future. He made a case for geeks taking over the world, that an ability to understand information, to analyse and manipulate it, would be more powerful in the new economy than the traditional skills of being able to control language and emotion (hence the reason so many politicians trained as lawyers.)

It struck a chord as I have been thinking along similar lines for a while - why is that most other professional services organisations work as partnerships (lawyers, accountants, doctors, bankers even) where those who do the work own and run the company, with IT services being the exception (with, of course, a few exceptions). Why does the IT and software development community have such a low self-esteem, that they are happy to work for sales and marketing teams who have little real understanding of what they are capable?

Of course there are companies where the techies do run the company, bringing in the business expertise from outside as and when necessary - Google being the most obvious example - but I'm thinking more of the new wave of small companies like those behind Fogbugz, Basecamp etc., where tech-savvy (and I mean really savvy, not just that they read Wired) entrepreneurs have shown that a working knowledge of the HTTP protocol doesn't preclude you from being successful in business.

So why is it so rare - a company where the accountants are brought in for the boilerplate business management issues, with product management and company strategy managed by those who really understand the product from the bottom up.

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